Two days after samples of six domestic geese found dead at Sukhna Lake were sent to a Bhopal facility from a Jalandhar laboratory, one of the birds has tested for avian influenza (H5N1).
Over the past week 22 deaths have been reported at the lake, resulting in the geese being isolated.
Rajbir Singh Rana, joint secretary in the agriculture ministry’s animal husbandry, dairying & fisheries department, confirmed the incidence of the disease in a letter sent to the Central Poultry Development Organization (northern region.) “We’re putting you on high alert for preventive measures,” it added.
The Regional Disease Diagnostic Laboratory, Jalandhar had described the deaths as being due to lung infection and malnutrition.
However, sources in the UT administration said the lab report was inconclusive and the samples of the dead geese had even tested negative for H5N1. The samples were then sent to the National Institute of High Security Animal Diseases (NIHSAD), Bhopal, for advanced tests that confirmed the death of one goose due to the disease, but there was no word on the cause of the death of the other three.
The sources added the administration still did not have any access to the report sent by Bhopal laboratory. The administration, however, took cognisance of the report and initiated preventive measures to discuss an action plan. UT adviser KK Sharma chaired a meeting of officials of health, wildlife and animal husbandry departments.
No culling for now
According to World Health Organization guidelines, in order to contain avian flu, which can spread between birds and to humans, birds within a radius of 1 km have to be culled.
However, the UT administration has received no instructions in this regard. A meeting will be held on Thursday to finalise the future course of action.
SDM (central) Prince Dhawan said: “There has been no outbreak of avian flu in the city. The competent authority to declare an outbreak of any epidemic is the Indian government and the UT administration has received no communication in this regard. In case there is a declaration of an epidemic, entry within a 1 km radius at Sukhna Lake will be banned and poultry shops within a 10 km radius will have to be closed. A team from Jalandhar is visiting the area. If culling is ordered they will handle the carcasses.”
Boat services stopped
The Chandigarh Industrial & Tourism Development Corp (CITCO) has stopped boat services for visitors for the next two days. The Lake Club will also remain closed till further orders.