A viral outbreak accompanied by scorching summer heat is killing poultry by thousands in the city. Last week, the State’s Animal Husbandry Department learnt of the death of nearly 3,000 birds at a farm in Hayatnagar. Testing of carcasses revealed the presence of Ranikhet disease, a highly contagious respiratory illness of poultry. Enquiries made by officials from the farmer also revealed birds had symptoms of respiratory illness.
“We tested the samples sent to us and found Ranikhet disease. In summer, the risk of outbreak is high and the farmer did not vaccinate the birds, which led to their deaths,” an official said. He noted that most of the birds that died were spent and old birds, suggesting that the farmer had neglected them as they are not productive.
Though severe in birds, Ranikhet which is caused by Newcastle Disease virus (NDV), can cause mild illness in humans mainly in the form of conjunctivitis among those who handle birds or their droppings. The virus is killed during normal cooking.
Word of disease brought back fears of bird flu that had struck Hyderabad around this time last year.
Testing for the deadly flu can only be done at the High Security Animal Lab in Bhopal. Officials promised that no symptoms of flu were seen in the birds and thus samples sent to the lab. The summer heat is also said to be killing birds and shortage of water is preventing poultry owners to do anything about it.
“If water is available in adequate quantity, we can run sprinklers and provide cool drinking water through the pipes. Shortage however forces us to contend with limited water, which when passed through pipes, is hot and kills the birds,” said E. Pradeep Rao, President Telangana State Poultry Federation. This summer, shortage of production, followed by reduced demand, has caused prices of birds to soar in both retail and wholesale markets. A bird at a retail outlet is priced at Rs. 175.
The price of eggs however has dropped due to reduced consumption and production fuelled by intense heat which is affecting birds, Mr. Rao claimed.
“If adequate water is available we can run sprinklers and provide cool drinking water ”