After Junagadh, bird flu spreads to central, southern districts


THE NUMBER of districts affected by the bird flu in the state went up to four Monday as samples of crows, which were found dead in some central and southern districts a few days ago, tested positive for H5N1 influenza. Thirty crows had dropped dead in Vadodara district, while carcasses of six and five crows were found in Surat and Valsad districts, respectively, over the last week. This comes days after H5N1 cases were noted in Junagadh district.

Vadodara and Surat district collectors Monday imposed restrictions on the movement of man and machinery to and from poultry farms in affected areas even as more mass mortality of birds was reported from Saurashtra and Kutch.

Officials at Vadodara animal husbandry department said the National Institute of High Security Animal Diseases (NIHSAD) laboratory in Bhopal confirmed three of the five samples of the 30 crows, which were found dead at Vasantpura village in Savli taluka Thursday, tested positive for H5N1. “We are taking the utmost precaution in the affected area. We have asked poultry farms to restrict entry and movement of people. They have to keep sanitising the farms and continue following the protocols. There is no need for panic among people but exercising caution is important,” Dr Prakash Darji, the animal husbandry officer of Vadodara, said.

Dr Darji said samples of pigeons, found dead at Kia village in Karjan taluka, and a peacock, found dead in Vadodara city, too, had been sent to NIHSAD.

Vadodara collector Shalini Agarwal, meanwhile, issued a notification prohibiting activities inside poultry farms across the district, including transport of products, birds and equipment to and from farms in Vadodara for the next 60 days.

The restrictions, which will have a direct impact on the sale of poultry products in the district, also includes a direction to ensure that migratory birds that come in contact with water bodies should be restricted. The notification also earmarks a containment area in the affected village and imposes a restriction on the involvement of people in poultry farm businesses.

In Surat and Valsad districts, authorities confirmed samples of crows — bird carcasses were recovered from Madhi railway station area of Bardoli taluka and Bardoli town in Surat; and Sugar Street, Valsad town, and Reserve Forest Department land at Atgam village in Valsad — have tested positive for H5N1. Surat collector Dhaval Patel said area falling within a one-km radius of Madhi railway staff colony has been declared a containment zone. “We have issued notifications with an attempt to contain the infection. The notification will remain in force for 60 days. Different teams of health and veterinary officials will survey poultry farms in Bardoli and in different talukas in Surat district,” Patel said.

H5N1 cases were first noted in Junagadh district after laboratory tests confirmed on January 8 that a few of the 55 birds, which were found dead on the coast of Kharo dam at Bantva village in the district, had died due to the disease.

On Monday, Junagadh district collector Sourabh Pardhi said, six other crows that were found ill at Lohej village of Mangrol taluka in Junagadh district and were being treated, had succumbed. The collector, however, said the sale of poultry product in the district was not affected. “There are only two or three poultry farms in the vicinity of places where bird deaths have been reported. So far, no mortality among poultry birds has been reported. While vigilance has been upped, there are no restrictions on the sale of poultry products as yet,” Pardhi said.

On Sunday, 35 cormorants were found dead inside a well at Bhimasar village of Anjar taluka in Kutch, Dr Haresh Thakkar, the deputy director of animal husbandry (DyDAH) department of Kutch district, said. “The well has an active electric motor pump and one possibility is that the cormorants could have died due to electric shock. However, as a precautionary measure, we have sent samples of the birds to Bhopal,” Dr Thakkar added.

Fifteen Red-wattled lapwings have also been found dead on Bhadar riverbank at Shivrajgadh village of Gondal taluka in Rajkot. “We are awaiting results of the tests from NIHSAD even as we have started surveillance,” Dr KU Khanpara, DyDAH of Rajkot, said.

Meanwhile, a poultry farmer at Dolasa village in Gir Somnath district claimed around 100 chickens died over the past few days after some wild animals raided the farm. “We visited the enclosure Sunday and found one dead bird with injury marks on its neck. While the mortalities seem to be due to attack by predators, we have sent samples for tests,” Dr SN Vaghasiya, DyDAH at animal disease investigation centre of Junagadh, said.

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