The Delhi zoo will remain shut for two-three months as another pelican died at the zoo on Thursday, taking the bird death toll to 70.
A senior Animal Husbandry department official told HT on Thursday that it will take at least 45 days to declare the zoo as completely safe and can be opened for visitors.
“After the deaths stop, every 15 days tests will be conducted and the zoo won’t be reopened until we are completely sure that it is virus free. This may take up to three months,” the official said.
A total of 12 water birds, including painted storks, ducks and pelicans, died of H5 Avian influenza on its premises since October 14. A team of Central Zoo Authority is stationed at the zoo to monitor the situation.
“A rosy pelican died at the zoo on Thursday. We have sent the sample for testing. The Centre-appointed committee to look into the bird flu situation at the zoo has been apprised of the death,” a zoo official said.
The committee to monitor the bird flu situation headed by Joint Commissioner of Union Animal Husbandry Department and including representatives from the Health Ministry, Environment Ministry and the Forest Ministry, apart from representatives of the Delhi government had a meeting on Thursday.
“A team of scientists from National Institute of Virology (NIV) in Pune have already visited the Delhi zoo and collected samples, sensitised and trained zoo staff about biosecurity measures against avian influenza. Now they will conduct a genome study to ascertain the cause and origin of this H5N8 virus,” a Delhi government official said.
According to him, it was discussed in the meeting that culling was not required at the moment. “Surveillance is the best course of action not only in Delhi, but also in Kerala, MP, Punjab and Haryana. Those who are handling dead birds are being given tamiflu. Spots where migratory birds come will be closely monitored,” the official said.
Test results from samples sent from Ghazipur murga mandi are “negative”.
The Delhi government had on Monday issued an 11-point health advisory which asked people to avoid direct contact with bird secretions and carcasses, consume only completely cooked chicken and not to consume uncooked or half cooked chicken or half boiled or half fried eggs.