The Assam government on Friday temporarily banned the import of poultry ahead of the mid-January Bhogali Bihu, the festival of feasting where fowls are considered a must.
The ban is in view of bird flu cases elsewhere in India and partly due to a scare after the report of a duck plague in Tripura.
An official notification said: “In view of the outbreak of highly pathogenic avian Influenza in some of the States, which is a highly contagious avian disease having zoonotic potential of causing huge loss in terms of mortality and trade of poultry, the Governor of Assam is pleased to impose temporary ban on entry of poultry as a precautionary measure through western border of the States in the interest of preventing escalation of the disease to Assam and other north-eastern States.”
The Animal Husbandry and Veterinary Department has also kept a watch on local fowls being sold in markets. Sellers usually stock up for sale at a premium during Bhogali Bihu.
“Assam or any other State in the northeast has not recorded any bird flu case but our request to the government for a temporary ban on importing poultry from other States was precautionary. All departmental officials across the State have been instructed to be alert,” the department’s Director Ashok Barman said.
Officials said precautionary measures had helped the State overcome the initial impact of African swine fever that killed more than 17,000 pigs in 2020.
The Nagaland government has also issued an advisory for “preparedness, control and containment of the virus” that causes bird flu.
The State’s Animal Husbandry and Veterinary Services Department advised people to report any unusual sickness and death of poultry birds, ducks and pet birds and not to handle and consume the meat of such birds and ducks that die suddenly. It also asked poultry farmers and traders not to procure eggs, chicks, ducklings, birds and ducks from bird flu-hit States.
The alarm across the region was set off by reports of the death of several ducks at a farm in Tripura over the last few days. But veterinarians there said bird flu was not the cause.
“Samples tested at a lab revealed the fowls died because of duck plague,” the State’s Animal Resources Development Department Director, K. Sasikumar, said.