No cases in BBMP limits, but strict vigil on: Chief Health Officer

Sanitation work at the Central Poultry Development Organisation (CPDO) at Hesaraghatta — where at least 3,600 turkeys reportedly have died of avian influenza in the last fortnight — is on even as more blood samples have been sent to the Animal Disease Laboratory in Bhopal and the Institute of Animal Health and Veterinary Biologicals here.

Focus on bird litter

Apart from blood, authorities are now checking water, birdfeed, bird litter and feather samples with a special focus on bird litter, which spreads the virus fast, sources said. While no fresh cases of bird death due to avian influenza have been reported, a strict vigil has been kept on other birds at the CPDO, which has about 19,000 poultry, 350 emus and 13,500 ducks. Of the turkeys, the remaining 700 or so have been culled.

“Sanitation work has been taken up at the turkey unit and the cleaning is expected to be completed within the next two days,” a senior CPDO official told The Hindu, without elaborating much.

With the sanitation work under way, including sprinkling of DDT, the CPDO has barred visitors while employees continued their work wearing masks and caps. On Saturday too, veterinarians were taking random blood samples from the birds.

Arvind Jannu, Principal Secretary, Department of Animal Husbandry and Fisheries, said so far the virus had been contained within the farm and authorities were reviewing the situation daily. Surveillance teams were going around a 10-km radius of the CPDO, declared as alert zone. Poultry farms in this zone had been directed not to get any new birds.

Eight-page notice

However, though chicken and egg outlets in the zone were advised to shut shop, many in the business claimed they were clueless about the outbreak.

Saying she had incurred losses ever since she shut her chicken stalls on October 24 following a government diktat, Shivakote resident Renuka said: “The notice talked about a disease in poultry. All I want is to reopen the shop as early as possible.” She said she could not read the eight-page notice as it was longwinded and she could not read fluently.

With their establishments closed, stall owners were seen getting their premises cleaned and painted. Hotels within the alert zone have taken chicken off their menu. The owner of a military hotel in D.B. Kere, 13 km from the CPDO, said he was serving pork and other meat.

According to Devaki Umesh, Chief Health Officer, Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike, though there was no avian flu within the BBMP limits, it is keeping an eye on the situation. She said the bird flu was restricted to Hesaraghatta for now. The State government had already culled chicken, ducks and turkeys in 50 villages in a 1-km radius around Hesaraghatta, she added.

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