Even as the country is battling with the COVID-19 pandemic, avian influenza has made a come back in India killing hundreds of birds in several states of India. Meanwhile, the states are gearing up against the flu by closing the imports of poultry from the affected states and closing down the zoological parks.
As per the information given by the Union Ministry of Fisheries, Animal Husbandry and Dairying, bird flu has been confirmed in seven states of the country so far. The list includes - Kerala, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh, Haryana, Gujarat and Uttar Pradesh.
While test reports of unusual death of birds received from Chhattisgarh, Maharashtra and Delhi are awaited, the ministry said on Saturday.
Here's how states are gearing up against the virus:
The Delhi government on Saturday announced a ban on import of live birds and closure of the city's biggest poultry market at Ghazipur after more avian deaths were reported in the national capital where three recreational parks and the famous Sanjay Lake were shut.
Samples of dead crows have also been sent to NIHSAD from Mumbai, Thane, Dapoli, Parbhani and Beed districts of Maharashtra for confirmation of avian influenza.
Meanwhile, culling operations have been completed in both the affected districts of Kerala and Post Operational Surveillance Programme guidelines have been issued to the State of Kerala. Central teams deployed to visit the affected states of Kerala, Haryana and Himachal Pradesh for monitoring and for epidemiological investigation have reached Kerala.
Furthermore, besides increasing surveillance around water bodies, live bird markets, zoos, poultry farms, proper disposal of the carcass, and strengthening of bio-security in poultry farms have to be ensured.
States were also requested to be prepared for any eventuality of avian influenza and were requested to ensure sufficient stock of PPE kits and accessories required for culling operations.
"Chief secretaries/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/ cooking procedures," the release said.
In view of the spread of bird flu across the country, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Saturday announced a ban on the import of live birds in the national capital and said that the Ghazipur poultry market will remain closed for 10 days.
With the anxiety of bird flu or avian influenza spreading fast, the sale of eggs and chickens have dropped in the national capital.
"The sale of eggs has dropped from 200-300 trays per day to just 100-150 per day in last two days as the scare of bird flu has increased," said Vinod, an egg dealer adding that the sale was hit by up to 50 per cent.
Mohammad Salim, General Secretary of Gazipur Murga Mandi on bird flu scare said that they have formed a 5-6 member committee that surveys the market and checks the quality of poultry at different shops.
At a time when avian influenza has been detected in several states, over four lakh chickens have died in Haryana in the last month, JP Dalal, Animal Husbandry and Dairying Fisheries Minister of Haryana said on Saturday.
Samples from two poultry farms in Haryana have tested positive for H5N8 (Bird Flu), Dalal said. He added that as per the guidelines, all birds within a 1 km radius of where the birds tested positive will be culled and buried.
Meanwhile, the entire state of Punjab has been declared a 'controlled area' in view of the outbreak of avian influenza affecting birds in neighbouring states.
As per a statement from the Punjab government, a complete ban has also been imposed on the import of live birds including poultry and unprocessed poultry meat into the state till January 15.
(With inputs from agencies)