Cites “high risk” of occurrence of avian influenza after monsoon as in the past

The Centre has alerted States on post-monsoon outbreak of highly contagious avian influenza or bird flu, which has the potential to be transmitted from birds and poultry to human beings (zoonotic risk).

In an advisory to the governments, the Centre said that as in the past there was a “high risk” of occurrence of avian influenza after monsoon. Therefore States must step up vigil and surveillance of potential sources of infection such as in indigenous fowls and ducks and migratory birds.

Avian influenza was reported early last month from a poultry production unit in Durg and a government-run farm in Jagdalpur in Chhattisgarh. As is the international practice, nearly 2,500 birds were destroyed to prevent the disease from spreading. This entails not only loss to poultry farmers and the government because of stamping out ofinfected birds, but also in terms of payment of compensation to farmers and commercial loss in trade.

While there have been cases near border States last year, Bhutan reported bird flu cases a fortnight ago in a backyard poultry farm near the national highway and had to kill nearly 2,000 birds. Emphasising the importance of early detection of the disease in poultry and a rapid response to contain the disease, the Department of Animal Husbandry under the Agriculture Ministry has asked the States to keep a watch on any unusual sickness or death in birds, including backyard poultry.

According to government sources, States have been alerted so that they can undertake “intensive surveillance” in all districts with special attention on surveillance at daily and weekly markets, haats and on international borders.

The Centre has warned the States to be extra vigilant about outbreaks in government poultry farms and to set in place a sound bio-security regime. They must set up panels which regularly conduct inspections in the poultry farms and closely monitor the movement of wild and migratory birds who carry the highly pathogenic H5N1 virus.

The Union government has also asked States to keep a strict vigil on any unusual mortality in wild birds and subject the dead birds to tests at the nearest Regional Disease Diagnostic Laboratory (RDDL) or the High Security Animal Disease Laboratory in Bhopal. In case the infected birds test positive, containment procedure has to be adopted immediately.

The incidence of the Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza was the second highest in the world last year, second only to the Foot and Mouth Disease in livestock.