The Maharashtra government on Friday informed that a total of 753 poultry birds were found dead in the state till 9 PM on Thursday. Out of this, 140 deaths were reported in Thane, 133 in Amravati, 110 in Nagpur, 86 in Chandrapur and Yavatmal each, 68 in Satara, 47 in Latur, 25 in Gondia, 19 in Osmanabad, 16 in Ahmadnagar, 15 in Gadchiroli, five in Nanden and three in Raigad.
Apart from poultry birds, mortality was observed in 65 other birds like herons, sparrows, parrots etc. 34 such deaths were reported in Sangli, 23 in Thane, two in Akola, and one each in Gondia, Ratnagiri, Solapur, Dhule, Latur, and Amravati.
Total 87 crows have died, with 42 deaths reported in Thane, 11 each in Mumbai and Amravati, six in Wardha, five in Ratnagiri, two each in Pune, Satara, and Gondia, and one each in Nashik, Jalgaon, Parbhani, yavatmal and Buldhana.
Meanwhile, the samples have been sent to the National Institute of High Security Animal Diseases in Bhopal and Disease Investigation Section in Pune for testing. The results are expected in 48 to 72 hours.
Now, the total number of birds to have died since January 8 has risen to 3,949.
Besides, the results of the examination of the previously sent samples have been received. The samples from Mumbai, Ghodbander (Thane district) and Dapoli for crows & herons and samples of poultry farm from Muramba (Tal.Parbhani) have been found positive for (H5N1 strain) and samples of crows from Beed district have been found positive for H5N8 strain.
Accordingly, the area is being declared as an "Infected Area" and action is being taken to enforce the prescribed preventive measures.
As per these measures, poultry birds within 1 km radius of the infected poultry farm have been ordered to be culled. Approximately 3,443 birds in Parbhani, Muramba, 11,064 birds in Kendrewadi, Ahmedpur, and 28 birds in Sukani, Udgir have been culled so far.
Whereas, in Mumbai, Ghodbander (Thane district), Dapoli and Beed, only surveillance will be continued, said the government.
Moreover, the Western Region Disease Diagnosis Laboratory has received 84 samples, out of which results of 14 samples are awaited.
Out of the 70 declared results, 12 poultry samples from Parbhani, Latur, Raigad, Nashik, and Nanded districts have been confirmed for H5 strain of bird flu; whereas 16 poultry samples from Nashik, Akila, Amravati, Ahmednagar, Pune, Nagpur, Bhandara, and Solapur have been tested negative for bird flu.
11 crow samples from Mumbai, Beed, Thane, Ratnagiri, Nashik, Gondia, and Nanded have tested positive for bird flu; whereas one crow sample from Chandrapur has tested negative.
12 samples from other birds like herons, parrots, sparrows etc. from Parbhani, Latur, Thane, Nashik, and Ahmednagar districts have tested positive, whereas eight samples from Ratnagiri, Gondia, Nagpur, Nashik, Yavatmal, and Satara have tested negative.
Meanwhile, the Maharashtra government, under the Prevention And Control of Infectious and Contagious Diseases in Animals Act, 2009, has conferred all its powers on all the district collectors within their local jurisdiction to declare an area as "Alert Zone".
The district collectors can declare an area as "Alert Zone" to ensure necessary precautions and preventive measures in case of mortality in poultry birds, suspected to have died of bird flu.
The Maharashtra government has also directed the owners of poultry farms and general public to immediately intimate mortality in crows, parrots, herons or in migratory birds in any village or of any unusual mortality of poultry birds in commercial farms as well as backyard poultry to the nearest veterinary dispensary.
The intimation can also be given toll free no. 18002330418.
"It is advised that the dead birds should not be touched with bare hands and post mortem of such dead birds should not be conducted. The birds should not be disposed of without intimation to the local veterinarian," the government said.
"As per the provisions under Section(1) of the Prevention and Control of Infectious and Contagious Diseases of Animals Act, 2009, every owner, or any other person, non-governmental organization, public bodies or village panchayat, in-charge or any animal which he or it has a reason to believe to be infective of a scheduled disease shall report the fact to the village officer or village panchayat in-charge, who may report the same in writing to the available veterinarian. Everyone in the state needs to take these precautions as mentioned above,for containment of the outbreak at the place of occurrence and to prevent the further spread of the disease," the government added.
The government further added that it is "completely safe" to eat eggs and poultry meat, if the eggs and poultry meat are cooked for 30 minutes at 70 degrees Celcius.
To convey the message that it is completely safe to eat boiled eggs and cooked chicken, the government also conducted a program of eating boiled eggs and cooked chicken at the Commissionerate of Animal Husbandry today, in the presence of press reporters.
It was informed in the press conference, held on the occasion, that instructions have already been given to hold such programs at the field level offices.