Bird flu confirmed in Delhi, all 8 samples sent to Bhopal lab tested positive

New Delhi: Testing of eight samples sent to a Bhopal-based laboratory has confirmed bird flu in Delhi, officials said on Monday.

The Delhi Animal Husbandry Department confirmed that all the samples sent to a laboratory in Bhopal have tested positive for bird flu or the avian influenza.

All eight samples -- four from a park in Mayur Vihar Phase 3, three from Sanjay Lake and one from Dwarka -- have been found positive for avian influenza, Dr Rakesh Singh from the animal husbandry unit of the Development Department said.

The samples were sent to Bhopal's National Institute of High Security Animal Disease last week.

The report of the test results arrived on Monday morning, he said.

A drive to cull ducks has begun at the famous Sanjay Lake, where 10 ducks were found dead recently, Singh added.

Officials earlier said that around 50 crows had died in Central Park, Mayur Vihar Phase 3 in a span of three to four days.

A few samples were also sent to a lab in Jalandhar. Their results are awaited, Singh said.

The Delhi Development Authority has already closed Hauz Khas Park, Dwarka Sector 9 Park, Hastsal Park and Sanjay Lake as a precautionary measure in view of the bird flu scare.

Hauz Khas Park in south Delhi has a huge water body and attracts a large crowd every day. However, no death of birds has been reported there.

The poultry market in Ghazipur has also been shut down temporarily.

Besides Delhi, the disease has been confirmed in Kerala, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Himachal Pradesh, Haryana, Gujarat, and Uttar Pradesh.

Avian influenza viruses have been circulating worldwide for centuries with four known major outbreaks recorded in the last century.

India reported its first outbreak in 2006.

In India, the disease spreads mainly by migratory birds flying to the country during winter months, from SeptemberÂ-October to February-March.

The secondary spread by human handling, through fomites, cannot be ruled out.

Implementing management practices that incorporate bio security principles, personal hygiene, and cleaning and disinfection protocols, as well as cooking and processing standards, are effective means of controlling the spread of the avian influenza viruses.

In a communication to the Chief Secretaries and Administrators of the States and UTs, Secretary of Department of Animal Husbandry and Dairying requested Animal Husbandry departments to ensure effective communication and coordination with Health authorities for close vigilance of the disease status and avoid any chances of jumping of the disease into humans.

Besides increasing surveillance around water bodies, live bird markets, zoos, poultry farms, etc. proper disposal of carcass, and strengthening of bio-security in poultry farms have to be ensured, the Department of Animal Husbandry and Dairying said.

States were also requested to be prepared for any eventuality of the avian influenza and were requested to ensure sufficient stock of PPE kits and accessories required for culling operations.

Chief Secretaries and Administrators were requested to arrange to issue appropriate advisories to quell consumer reactions, affected by rumours and increase awareness regarding safety of poultry or poultry products that are safe for consumption following boiling and cooking procedures.

(With agencies)

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