7,000 more poultry birds die at Haryana’s Barwala; central team pulls up Panchkula admn
Over 7,000 poultry birds died in Panchkula’s Barwala belt on Thursday, taking the toll to 4.37 lakh, even as a five-member team rushed by the central government arrived in the district, amid uncertainty over the cause behind the en masse bird deaths.
In a meeting with the deputy commissioner, the rapid response team sent by Union ministry of health and family welfare sought explanation on delay in detecting the cause of the bird deaths.
Considered Asia’s second largest poultry belt with over 15,000 workers, Barwala and Raipur Rani have around 110 poultry farms, housing over 77 lakh poultry birds and producing 1 crore eggs daily.
The Centre’s team includes two microbiologists from the National Centre for Disease Control, Delhi; an assistant professor from the internal medicine department of Lady Hardinge Hospital, New Delhi; the regional director of central government from Chandigarh; and an expert from PGIMER, Chandigarh.
“The team will inspect the poultry farms on Friday and examine the situation on ground to ensure that no human-to-human transmission takes place in case avian influenza is detected,” said deputy commissioner Mukesh Kumar Ahuja after a meeting with the experts’ team, and the health and animal husbandry and dairying departments of Haryana.
He added that reports of samples collected by the Northern Regional Disease Diagnostic Laboratory, Jalandhar, were still awaited to confirm bird flu.
Meanwhile, the commissioner said, he had also constituted a special task force to look into the bird deaths. It includes experts from the health and animal husbandry departments, police, block development officers and other officials. “I will hold a meeting with them on Friday evening,” the DC said.
Isolation wards set up in Raipur Rani, Tamiflu procured
“Taking preventive measures, the district health department has set up an isolation ward at the Civil Health Centre in Raipur Rani. Also, Tamiflu tablets have been procured in case avian influenza is detected,” an official from the administration said, adding that an action plan in case the bird flu was detected had been prepared.
On samples of 30 poultry workers sent to National Institute of Virology, Pune, the official said fresh samples may have to be collected for accurate results.
Apart from neighbouring Himachal Pradesh, thousands of birds have died in Kerala, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh since the beginning of the outbreak in December-end.
According to experts, the current outbreak is caused by the H5N8 strain of bird flu. Both H5N1 (another strain of avian influenza) and H5N8 have high pathogenicity (the ability of a pathogen to cause disease), but they do not infect humans much.
On Wednesday, Haryana animal husbandry department in an advisory had said that poultry products can be cooked and consumed as usual with no fear of acquiring avian influenza virus, as it was sensitive to heat.