Thousands of infected chickens, ducks and emus have been culled at a state-run poultry farm on Bangalore’s outskirts to contain the deadly avian (bird) flu, a senior official said Tuesday.

“We have culled about 19,235 chickens, 13,673 ducks and 370 emus at the Central Poultry Development Organisation (CPDO) farm and in the neighbourhood at Hesaraghatta since Monday to prevent the H5N1 influenza affecting other birds in the vicinity,” Principal Secretary Animal Husbandry, Arvind Jannu, said here.

Hesaraghatta is in the north-west of Bangalore, around 25km from the city centre.

The drastic step to cull all the infected birds by 25 rapid response teams was taken after the state-run high security animal disease hospital at Bhopal confirmed that over 3,600 turkeys in the poultry farm died last week due to the deadly pathogenic virus.

Culling of chickens and ducks was taken up after tests confirmed that a flock of 206 chickens and 17 ducks died due to the bird flu during the weekend.

“As a precautionary measure, we have not only quarantined the 150-acre poultry farm, but also ordered closure of private farms around 1 km of the institute and extended ban on sale of poultry products, including chickens and eggs from retail outlets by a week in the area,” Jannu said.

Noting that the culling of remaining infected birds and sanitising all cells where birds were reared would continue over the next 10 days, Jannu said swift action since Oct 26 enabled the department to prevent the diseases from spreading to other areas, as there had been no incidents of avian flu affecting birds outside the farm or around the vicinity.

“Though no reports of similar incidents from outside the institute so far, we have dispatched 10 surveillance teams to private poultry farms located in villages around 10km to collect samples of their birds and verify if any of them (birds) have been affected by the avian flu,” he said.

The teams have collected about 80 samples from 70 villages around Hessarghatta.

“We have told the people in the villages to report about any unnatural death of birds to the department or the teams, which will inspect private poultry farms or sheds in the vicinity,” Jannu observed.

The department has also issued an advisory to the public across the villages to avoid consuming poultry products for the time being or take precautions by cooking chicken or eggs thoroughly.

“Before culling, we have also collected the serum samples of the infected chickens and ducks to ascertain the cause of the deadly disease. They are being sent to the lab at Bhopal for test reports,” Jannu added.

Allaying fears of the bird flu spreading beyond the state-run poultry farm, the National Egg Coordination Committee (NECC) manager K. Giridhar said there was no cause for panic as the authorities had swiftly to contain the damage.

“Though outbreak of bird flu at Hesaraghatta is a matter of concern, there is no impact of it on sales or consumption of chicken and eggs across the city, as birds marketed here are hatched, reared and protected in compliance with bio-security measures,” Giridhar told IANS here.

Accounting for 50 percent of the Karnataka market, Bangalore ranks among top five cities across the country in sales and consumption of chickens and eggs after Mumbai, Chennai, Hyderabad and Delhi.

“On average about 150-200 tonnes of chicken and five million eggs are sold daily in Bangalore market depending on the season and demand-supply from poultry farms across the state and Namakkal near Salem in Tamil Nadu,” Giridhar noted.

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