21,000 birds culled in Kerala; 2,000 migratory birds found dead in Himachal
Culling of chickens and ducks began in parts of Kerala on Tuesday to contain the spread of avian influenza, or H5N8, as 2,000 migratory birds were found dead in Himachal Pradesh, and several hundred birds in Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh.
Tamil Nadu and Karnataka, both neighbouring Kerala, put their animal husbandry and forest departments on alert as fears of the bird flu spreading grew. In Haryana, the “unusual” deaths of four lakh poultry birds have been reported in the past 10 days, but there is no confirmation on whether they died of avian influenza.
In Kerala, after H5N8 was detected among ducks in the Kuttanad region, authorities on Tuesday began culling birds within a one-km radius of the infected areas. Officials said that rapid response teams had culled more than 21,000 birds, mostly ducks, at Nedumudi, Thakazhi, Pallippad and Karuvatta in Alappuzha district and Neendoor in Kottayam district. Both the districts have been put under alert.
The Tamil Nadu government has activated all check posts to prevent the entry of poultry from Kerala into the State. Personnel from the animal husbandry department have been deployed at the border at Puliyarai to stop vehicles carrying chicken, ducks and eggs.
The animal husbandry department has advised poultry farms in Namakkal, a major poultry hub, to take precautionary measures.
The Rajasthan government sounded an alert and established a State-level control room in Jaipur to monitor the situation after the H5N8 strain of avian influenza was identified by Bhopal’s animal disease laboratory in the samples sent from Jhalawar, Kota and Baran districts.
Crows comprised the majority of about 600 birds that have died in the State so far, while other birds included heron and baya weaver, Principal Secretary (Animal Husbandry) Kunji Lal Meena said on Tuesday. Fifteen districts have reported the disease.
In Himachal, close to 2,000 migratory birds, including endangered species, have died at the Pong dam lake in Kangra district. Confirming the deaths, Kangra Deputy Commissioner Rakesh Prajapati ordered a complete lockdown in the four sub-divisions of the district to check the spread of the disease.
Punjab Health Minister B.S. Sidhu said though no case has been reported so far in the State, officials have been put on alert.
A total of 155 dead crows in Indore in Madhya Pradesh have been found with the virus, an official said.
(With Bureau reports and PTI inputs)
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