Delhi, Maharashtra among 9 states affected by new strain of bird flu
Delhi has banned imports of live birds and the largest wholesale poultry market in Ghazipur has been temporarily shut down
Amid nationwide efforts to curb the outbreak, Delhi and Maharashtra have reported the new strain of bird flu in India alongside seven other states.
Seven other states that have previously reported the H5N8 strain of Avian Influenza as the cause of recent bird deaths are - Uttar Pradesh, Kerala, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh, Haryana and Gujarat.
Senior officials of India's Ministry of Animal Husbandry have been summoned by the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Agriculture to discuss the availability of animal vaccines in the country, reports NDTV.
Haryana has recorded the highest number of deaths of birds; in the last few weeks, more than 4 lakh birds have died. Also on alert are Jammu and Kashmir and Chhattisgarh.
Delhi has banned imports of live birds and the largest wholesale poultry market in Ghazipur has been temporarily shut down.
Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Saturday said, "Rapid response teams have been formed in every district to contain the spread. Veterinary doctors are also constantly on the lookout."
He said the focus was particularly on the poultry markets in Sanjay Lake, Bhalswa Lake, and Hauz Khas.
In Kerala, tens of thousands of birds were culled last week after 12,000 ducks died and the H5N8 strain of Avian Influenza was confirmed in parts of Alappuzha and Kottayam districts. Sale of poultry and related products has been regulated only in the affected parts.
In Haryana, culling of over 1.6 lakh birds at five poultry farms began in Panchkula district on Saturday, news agency PTI reported. More than four lakh birds were found dead in the state in the last two-three weeks.
Himachal Pradesh reported deaths of over 2,000 birds, most of them bar-headed geese, at Pong Dam sanctuary. Slaughter, sale, purchase and export of any poultry birds, fish of any breed and their related products, including eggs, meat, chicken, have been banned in Kangra district, marked as an epicentre.
Across the country, chief secretaries of states and union territories have been asked by the government to monitor the situation and keep effective communication open with health officials, particularly with regards to avoiding the spread of the disease to humans. They have also been asked to track water bodies, bird markets, zoos, poultry farms, and all their surrounding areas.
States have also been told to ensure availability of PPE kits and accessories to be used to cull birds and dispose of carcases and bird waste. They have also been asked to tackle rumours that influence poultry product consumers. They are expected to increase awareness about their safety, especially after the products are boiled or cooked.
Last week, the government clarified that the disease is "zoonotic" but infection in humans has not been reported in India, according to the government.
India reported the first outbreak of Avian Influenza in 2006. Bird flu viruses have been circulating worldwide for centuries with four known major outbreaks recorded in the last century, the centre said in a statement.
In India, the disease spreads mainly by migratory birds coming into the country during winter months from September-October to February- March. The secondary spread by human handling (through fomites) cannot be ruled out, according to the government.