Approximately 50 crows whose carcasses were found in Indore in Madhya Pradesh last week were diagnosed with the bird flu virus, leading authorities to issue a warning.
Samples of dead migratory birds found at Himachal Pradesh’s Pong Dam Lake have also been tested positive for bird flu or avian influenza. According to the study, RT-PCR testing of five dead Bar headed geese samples performed at the National Institute of High Security Animal Diseases (NIHSAD) in Bhopal showed all birds positive for the H5N1 avian influenza virus.
Around 1,800 migratory birds have been found dead in the lake sanctuary so far, most of them Bar-Headed Geese.
“According to information given to us by the Centre on Monday, the laboratory at the Indian Veterinary Research Institute (IVRI) in Bareilly had identified avian influenza in the samples of dead birds. We were waiting for confirmation by NIHSAD as it is the nodal body to diagnose this disease “said, Archana Sharma Principal Chief Forest Conservator (Wildlife).
She added that avian influenza was also suspected in the poultry samples at the Northern Provincial Disease Diagnostic Laboratory in Jalandhar VK Gupta, deputy director of the Center for Animal Disease Research and Diagnosis (CADRAD) at IVRI Bareilly, where preliminary testing was done, confirmed that the samples were positive for influenza-associated antigens.
He added that the samples were then sent to the laboratory in Bhopal for a confirmatory examination and to classify the virus type and strain. Dr Ajmer Dogra, director of animal husbandry, said the department had formed a rapid response team to deal with the alleged epizootic disease.
According to the World Health Organization, bird flu is a highly contagious and dangerous respiratory disease in birds caused by the H5N1 influenza virus that can sometimes affect humans as well, while human-to human infection is rare. In recent days, birds in large numbers have been dying mysteriously across the country.
Around a lakh poultry birds are confirmed to have died in Barwala in the last few days in neighboring Haryana, while in Rajasthan, the death of a number of crows in Jhalawar has been associated with avian influenza.
Samples of some ducks allegedly tested positive for bird flu in Kerala as well. Wildlife personnel first recorded the sudden death of four Bar headed Geese and one common teal in the Fatehpur region last Monday in Himachal’s Pong Lake wildlife sanctuary.
Over 400 migratory waterfowl were found dead the next day in the Majhar, Bathari, Sihal, Jagnoli, Chatta, Dhameta and Kuthera areas in the Dhameta and Nagrota wildlife ranges.
Consequently, hundreds of more birds were found dead every day, totaling 1,773 before Sunday, Sharma said. She said more than 90 percent of the dead bodies were Bar-Headed Geese, the most regular migrating bird’s species on the lake that arrive here in winters after passing the Himalayan ranges from Central Asia, Russia, Mongolia and other regions. There are 8-9 other bird species whose groups have been found dead. By late January last year, more than one lakh of migratory birds had camped at the lake, and over 50,000 have arrived so far this year.
As per the bird-flu protocol, dead birds are being disposed of, officials said, adding that no such deaths have been reported from other water bodies in the state so far.
Kangra DC forbids the killing, selling, import and export of livestock, chickens, fish, etc.
According to an order given by Kangra DC Rakesh Prajapati under the Disaster Management Act the Pong reservoir and an area radius of one Kilometre around its outskirts have been declared an emergency zone in which no human and domestic livestock activities are now permitted and the movement of visitors as well as local residents has been prohibited.