After H5N8 bird flu infection was confirmed in Gwalior zoo, Madhya Pradesh animal husbandry department has sounded an alert across the state and directed its district units to watch out for any mortality of poultry or birds and follow the guidelines issued by Centre on checking bird flu. Gwalior zoo authorities have however sent fresh samples of other bird species in the zoo to the National Institute for High Security Animal Diseases (NIHSAD), Bhopal for tests and quarantined over a dozen birds including, painted storks, pelicans and turkeys
Dr RK Rokde, director, Animal Husbandry, Madhya Pradesh and president state veterinary council told HT that there have been no reports of any mortality in the poultry farms across the state. “I have directed all the district officials to strictly follow the guidelines issues by centre to check bird flu and ensure a constant surveillance of their respective areas and immediately report any illness of birds of their deaths”, he said. Dr Rokde said there were over 400 private and nine government poultry farms in the state.
Gwalior zoo officer Dr Pradeep Srivastava told HT there was no fresh death of any bird in the zoo, adding however they have sent fresh samples of other bird species to the Bhopal lab for tests. “We have quarantined over a dozen birds including, painted storks, pelicans and turkeys. They are under strict surveillance. This morning we have received nearly 50 protective kits and our employees are working continually to clean the zoo and ensure proper sanitation according to the guidelines issued by the Centre”, he said. Asked whether they had culled any birds in the zoo, which houses nearly 300 birds of different species, Dr Pradeep Srivastava said they were yet to cull any birds, as they were waiting for the instructions of the Central Zoo Authority. “When central zoo authority will direct us, we will immediately cull the birds here”, he said.
The poultry industry in the state has not been hit yet by the news as the bird flu infection has not been reported from any other part of the state and there have been no major deaths of birds anywhere in the state. If the infection spreads and culling starts, the poultry industry will be hit in a major way. According to official sources, MP has over 1.19 crore (2012 figures) poultry comprising chicken and ducks and the production of eggs in the state is over 117.7 crore (2014-15 figures).
“There has been no effect on our sales yet due to the bird flu reports in Delhi or Gwalior. There have been no deaths elsewhere. If deaths starts anywhere, then prices might fall. Sometimes, we earn more profits as volume of chicken sale increases as chicken lovers buy more from us as they think that chicken prices slashed significantly”, said Anees Bhai, who runs in poultry business in TT Nagar,
Meanwhile, union department of animal husbandry, dairying and fisheries has requested NIHSAD, Bhopal to investigate the outbreak thoroughly to determine the source of infection, so that the zoo authorities across the country can implement suitable strategy to prevent the ingress of the disease to captive birds.
On Friday HT had reported that that fifteen of 28 Painted Storks in Gwalior zoo had died since Wednesday, following which zoo administration has shut down the zoo for public and sent the samples to NIHSAD Bhopal., where they tested positive for H5N1.
Department of Animal Husbandry, Dairying and Fisheries on Friday evening issued necessary guidelines to the state government and the zoo authorities on control and containment of H5N8 infection. This development followed NIHSAD, Bhopal informing to Centre that the samples it received from Gwalior zoo had tested positive for H5N8. After this the union ministry of environment, forests and climate change was requested to issue advisories to all the wildlife/ bird sanctuaries to be on alert and take necessary actions for prevention of the disease.