Rajasthan chief minister Ashok Gehlot has directed officials to be alert to prevent the spread of avian influenza after the deaths of hundreds of birds in the state.
On Wednesday, 410 bird deaths were reported in the state. Of these, 297 were crows, six peacocks, 50 poultry and 41 other birds.
In the last 10 days, around 1,000 birds including crows, peacocks, hens, koels, common ducks, kingfishers and magpies have died in 16 districts of the state.
While the CM advised caution in view of the continuing bird deaths, the BJP has demanded that a central team visit the state.
The centre has issued alerts to Rajasthan and other states hit by bird flu to collect samples from areas where deaths have occurred and to monitor birds in water bodies and forested areas.
BJP leader Rajendra Rathore has written to union animal husbandry minister Giriraj Singh apprising him of the situation and requesting that a team of experts be sent to Rajasthan.
Avian influenza has been confirmed only in crows so far. Around 700 crows have died in the state so far. Animal husbandry department officials have sent some 150 samples to the High-Security Animal Diseases in Bhopal for testing.
Kunjilal Meena, principal secretary, animal husbandry department, said the crows have been found to be infected with the H5N8 variant of avian influenza which is not very infectious.
He said fortunately there is no spread of bird flu among poultry in the state and the state is vigilant and taking measures to contain the virus.
Animal husbandry minister Lalchand Kataria held a virtual meeting with poultry farmers in the state on Wednesday and asked them to be alert.
Kataria said while some states have imposed a ban on poultry products, so far no case of bird flu has been reported from any poultry farm in the state so we have not yet put a ban.
Meena said the poultry farmers have been asked to contact officials in case of any symptoms or deaths and have been advised not to dispose of the dead animals themselves.
Meena also said that the centre has given permission to set-up a testing lab in Rajasthan and the department has started preparations but it will take four months to be completed.
The animal husbandry and wildlife departments have sounded an alert over bird flu in the last week of December and a state-level control room has been established in Jaipur and control rooms have been set-up in all the affected districts to monitor the situation. Advisories have been issued to officials to follow the centre’s guidelines and to prevent spread of the virus to poultry and domestic animals.
The animal husbandry department has asked officials to collect 10 samples each from all wetlands in the state to get them tested.
Officials say the virus has likely spread from migratory birds which arrive in Rajasthan in large numbers for nesting during winter.