In the wake of recent painted stork deaths in Gwalior zoo, the animal husbandry department has decided to collect samples of faecal droppings of migratory birds for lab tests. The reports will help the department determine the source of the H5N8 virus.
Over 40 species of migratory birds come to Madhya Pradesh from trans-Himalayan countries between October and March. Every year thousands of migratory birds flock to Bhopal.
Reportedly, birds with common Arctic breeding ground have played a major role in the global spread of avian influenza virus in the past. Studies also indicate that H5N8 viruses might have originated in China and then moved to other countries.
However, this is for the first time the virus was detected in the country — first in Delhi and now in Madhya Pradesh.
Expressing concern over stork deaths, Dr RK Rokde, director of animal husbandry department and president of state veterinary council, said: “As the H5N8 virus was detected in Madhya Pradesh for the first time, I have directed the district animal husbandry officers to collect samples of fecal droppings of the migratory birds that come from China, Siberia and Russia. The samples collected from these birds will help us understand the situation better.”
Rokde has also directed the department officials to inspect the private poultry farms, which number over 400 and department’s own nine poultry farms.
“Besides, I have also instructed officials to keep an eye on backyard poultry in the rural areas to check reports of mortality”, he said
The department had sounded an alert across the state and directed its district units to follow the guidelines issued by Centre to check the menace.
Six storks marked for culling in Gwalior zoo die
Meanwhile, six storks earmarked for culling in Gwalior zoo died on Sunday night, taking the toll to 24. The zoo administration has decided to down shutters for an indefinite period of time. Painted storks (Mycteria leucocephala), generally found in the wetlands, are not migratory and generally make short distance movements in their range according to experts.
With this, the entire population of painted storks numbering 24 at the civic-run zoo has been wiped out.
The remaining 300-odd birds of other species were in good health and the zoo was being disinfected, Gwalior Municipal Corporation commissioner Anay Dwivedi said.
The wildlife authorities in other parts of the state have also asked their field staff to keep eye on avian population in their respective areas.
Dr Atul Srivastava, director of Van Vihar National Park in Bhopal, said there has been no reports of mortality in the park nearby areas so far.
“We do not keep caged birds. But migratory birds do visit the Upper Lake. I have directed the field staff to keep a close eye on activities of migratory birds,” he said.
Indore health dept, zoo officials step up vigil
Amid bird flu scare, the health department and zoo officials are taking measures to check spread of the disease in the city.
A team of veterinary doctors visited the Indore zoo to check whether birds show any signs of H5N8 infection or disease.
“We have started giving birds anti-virals, vitamins and all kind of nutrition to ensure that their immunity remains strong. Also, their interaction with human is kept limited,” said Uttam Yadav, the in-charge of the zoo.
“The infection is aerial and can easily get transmitted through migratory birds. Therefore, we want to take extra precaution,” said Yadav.
The health department is working to ensure that contraction of disease among human doesn’t happen. “Ever since the news of flu outbreak spread, we have been continuously working to ensure that a Delhi like situation doesn’t take place in Indore,” said Dr GL Sodi of the integrated disease surveillance project.
Administration in Neemuch and Mandsaur dists on alert
Meanwhile, administration in Neemuch and Mandsaur districts are on alert after confirmation of a bird flu case in Gwalior.
The districts have started checking poultry birds and eggs coming from Rajasthan, the main supplier of poultry birds and eggs to this part of the state.
Neemuch collector Rajnish Shrivastava ordered declared check of poultry birds and eggs at Naigaon - a place situated near inter-state toll plaza from Monday.
In Mandsaur, collector Swatantra Kumar Singh asked all department officials to keep a tab on migratory birds and report animals and husbandry department if they see any unusual behavior among birds.