Bird flu makes a fresh attempt to create havoc as India’s 10 states have reported cases of the Avian Influenza in their birds.
Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Himachal Pradesh, Kerala, Gujrat, Madhya Pradesh, and Haryana where the 7 states that confirmed the disease as the cause of death in the birds there. Joining the list are three more states including Delhi, Maharashtra, and Uttarakhand.
The national capital’s Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, yesterday, had said that the samples of the bodies of the birds which died were sent to the labs for investigation. The reports received today revealed the existence of the Avian Influenza virus in the samples.
Today, the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Agriculture summoned senior officials of the Ministry of Animal Husbandry for evaluating the situation and finding the animal vaccines available in India.
Until now, Haryana tops the list of the highest bird deaths as it reported the death of over 4 lakh birds within the past few weeks. Chhattisgarh and Jammu and Kashmir have also been put on high alert.
However, officials reiterated that there have been no cases of human transmission. Minister of Animal Husbandry Giriraj Singh said after confirming the absence of the spread to humans that there is a need to cook poultry properly before consumption. He urged people to cook chicken, “preferably at 70 degrees Celsius”.
Import of all live birds has been banned in the national capital along with the temporary closure of the biggest wholesale poultry market of Ghaziabad. The woes of traders and sellers are increasing every day as the shutdown of markets is heavily impacting the sales. Mohd Saleem, General Secretary, Ghazipur Wholesale Poultry Market Association, said, “Everyday 250-300 tonne of stock used to come here. The business of ₹ 2.5 crores has been impacted.”
Minister of Animal Husbandry Giriraj Singh while reacting to the matter today said, “If Delhi would’ve followed center’s advisory, first issued in October 2019, there wouldn’t have been a need to shut the market. Panic has spread within 500 km. I’ve written to the Chief Minister.”
Forces including those from the Rapid Response department have been assigned in each district of Delhi to keep a track of the situation and act accordingly. “The focus is particularly on the poultry markets in Sanjay Lake, Bhalswa Lake, and Hauz Khas,” Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said on Saturday.
Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia told today that restrictions have been placed for transporting processed and packaged chicken from various states to Delhi for the purpose of selling it here.
Maharashtra CM Uddhav Thackeray said he will organize a meeting today to discuss the matter. Around 500 km from Mumbai, Parbhani is currently the epicenter of the disease. Deepak Madhukar Munglikar, District Collector, said, “About 800 poultry birds – all hens – died in the last two days. Bird flu has been confirmed in Murumba village. There are about eight poultry farms and 8,000 birds. We have given orders of culling those poultry birds.”
Crows in Mumbai, Thane, Beed, and Dapoli of Maharashtra have been found with Avian Influenza. A medical team examining the states declared Murrumba as an “infected village” and the sale of poultry birds within a radius of 10kms has been prohibited as the animals are likely to be infected.
The southern state of Kerala culled thousands of birds in the past week as 12,000 ducks had died. Regions of Alappuzha and Kottayam districts confirmed Avian Influenza’s H5N8 strain of the virus.
On Saturday, Haryana culled more than 1.6 lakh birds from 5 poultry farms in the Panchkula district. In the past 2-3 weeks, the state witnessed the death of over 4 lakh birds.
Meanwhile, in Himachal Pradesh, more than 2,000 birds died in Pong Dam sanctuary where the majority were bar-headed geese. Kangra, now highlighted as an epicenter, has received restrictions on the sale, slaughter, import, and purchase of any kind of poultry bird, fish of any variety, and commodities related to it, along with eggs, chicken, and meat.
Chief secretaries of states and union territories have been told by the Center to monitor the situation and remain communicative with health officials on guard to collect any information about the issue, more importantly, to prevent any future transmission from animals to humans. Water bodies, bird markets, poultry farms, zoos, and their surrounding regions have been told to be tracked regularly.
The government has told states to ensure stocks of PPE kits and other protective materials to cull birds and discard the bodies and bird wastes. Rumors revolving around the factors that are concerned with poultry products and their consumers are also to be put to rest.
Though announced as “zoonotic” by the government, the likelihood of the transmission through fomites cannot be erased. In the past century, there have been 4 major outbreaks of Bird flu viruses in the world. The disease reaches India through migratory birds entering the country in the winter season, during the months of September-December.