The Alappuzha district was put on alert on Thursday after an outbreak of bird flu was confirmed at Kunnumma South (ward 10) in Thakazhy grama panchayat.
District Collector A. Alexander said the presence of H5N1 subtype of the Influenza A virus was reported in ducks.
Joseph Cherian, a duck farmer from Purakkad who was raising around 13,500 ducks close to the outer bund of a paddy field in Thakazhy, with an eye on the Christmas festive season, lost more than 10,000 birds in the past two weeks.
Following the mass death of ducks, the Animal Husbandry Department (AHD) last week sent samples of dead birds to the National Institute of High-Security Animal Disease (NIHSAD), Bhopal for analyses, which tested positive for avian influenza.
Mr. Alexander, who chaired a meeting to take stock of the situation, said that measures had been initiated to check the spread of the disease.
AHD officials said that between 8,000 and 10,000 ducks belonging to five farmers within a 1-km radius of the infected area were culled by rapid response teams as part of the containment measures. The carcasses of the culled birds were disposed of as per the standard operating procedure.
The District Collector has issued an order banning movement and sale of duck, chicken quail, and other domestic birds, their egg, meat and waste (manure) in 12 local bodies (within 9 km radius of the hotspot) of Champakulam, Nedumudi, Muttar, Edathua, Veeyapuram, Karuvatta, Thrikkunnappuzha, Thakazhy, Purakkad, Ambalappuzha South, Ambalappuzha North, and Haripad municipality.
Besides, the place in ward 10 of Thakazhy grama panchayat where the disease was confirmed has been declared a containment zone. The movement of people and vehicles to and from the place has been banned.
Mr. Alexander directed the assistant conservator of forests to monitor migratory birds for avian influenza.
Apart from Thakazhy, duck mortality has also been reported from Nedumudi in Alappuzha, Vechoor and Kallara in the Kottayam district in recent days. The AHD has sent samples from these places for analyses but is yet to receive the test results.
Second time this year
It is the second time in less than a year bird was confirmed in the region. Earlier this year, avian flu caused by the H5N8 strain of the Influenza A virus was detected from six places in Kuttanad at Nedumudi, Thakazhy, Pallippad, Karuvatta, and Kainakary in Alappuzha district and Neendoor in Kottayam district.
More than 80,000 birds, mostly ducks, died or were culled in the two districts due to the outbreak. It was the third outbreak of avian influenza reported in the region in the last seven years. In 2014, thousands of ducks had perished or were culled following a highly infectious bird flu outbreak caused by H5N1 virus. In 2016, avian influenza caused by the H5N8 virus was detected among ducks in Kuttanad.