Outbreak source still a mystery, focus is on containment, say authorities
Culling of chickens is under way at the Central Poultry Development Organisation (CPDO) at Hesaraghatta near here, which has been hit by an outbreak of highly pathogenic avian influenza (H5N1). The government on Tuesday extended the ban on marketing and movement of poultry and poultry products to and from the surveillance zone, which lies in a 10-km radius around the CPDO, till November 15.
Following Monday’s decision to cull more than 33,000 birds (chicken, duck and emu) at the unit, 19,154 chickens were culled on Tuesday. The remaining, officials said, will be culled and disposed of over the next 8 to 10 days.
The government had announced culling of 19,235 chickens, 13,673 ducks and 392 emus besides sanitising 52 poultry sheds after 206 chickens died over the weekend. On October 25, the Union government had notified the outbreak of avian influenza at the turkey unit after about 3,600 of the birds turkeys died over the past fortnight.
“The culling process for each bird is different. While it is easier to cull chickens, it is different for emus and ducks. Besides, sheds that housed these birds have to be thoroughly sanitised. It may take about 10 days or a little more,” Arvind Jannu, Principal Secretary, Department of Animal Husbandry, told The Hindu. The culled birds, he said, were being buried within the CPDO premises with proper procedure. “Birds are buried with multi-layered chemical process to prevent any further contamination,” he added.
Six teams, involved in the surveillance work, collected 175 samples in the surveillance zone on Tuesday. No unnatural deaths of birds were noticed in the surveillance zone or in any part of the State, a department communiqué said.
Mr. Jannu said the source of the outbreak was yet to be ascertained, and currently the Government was working towards containing the spread of the flu.
On the ban of poultry movement from Karnataka to Andhra Pradesh and Kerala, he said: “The commercial aspect of the ban can be dealt with later. We don’t want the virus to cross into the civilian areas, which can cause much more damage than the current ban by neighbouring States.”
Business as usual
Meanwhile, some chicken stalls The Hindu visited in Bangalore did not report any decline in business. Sources in the National Egg Coordination Committee confirmed sale of chicken and eggs has not been hit in the city, which consumes about 200 tonnes of chicken and about 50 lakh eggs daily.
No human case
Health Department sources said no case of H5N1 among humans had been reported in the State so far. “While workers in the CPDO were being screened on a daily basis, villagers in the surveillance zone are being screened regularly,” an official said.