Punjab reports first suspected cases of bird flu, sends samples to Bhopal lab
After declaring itself as a ‘controlled area’ on January 8 with no transmission of bird flu, Punjab on Friday recorded its first suspected cases after samples collected from two poultry farms in Mohali district tested positive for avian influenza. The samples have been sent to a Bhopal-based facility for further confirmation even as bird flu has been reported in 11 states across India so far.
An official told news agency PTI that the samples collected from the poultry farms in Dera Bassi area of Mohali district were initially sent for testing at Jalandhar’s Regional Disease Diagnostic Laboratory (RDDL). The samples were then sent to the National Institute of High Security Animal Diseases in Bhopal, the official added.
The Congress led-government in Punjab on Sunday had temporarily suspended testing for the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) at the RDDL in Jalandhar and restored the laboratory for testing suspicious cases of bird flu. The state's health minister Balbir Singh Sidhu had said that Covid-19 testing operations at the laboratory had been suspended as more than enough testing capacity was available at a distance of one hour. “RDDL will revert to testing for Covid-19 once bird flu threat is over,” the minister added.
Earlier, Punjab had imposed a complete ban on the import of live birds, comprising poultry and unprocessed poultry meat, for any purpose till Friday. The state government had also instructed officials to intensify sampling, testing and surveillance of suspected cases. Neighbouring states such as Haryana and Delhi have already reported bird deaths due to avian influenza.
Meanwhile, the Union animal husbandry ministry said on Thursday that all state governments had started undertaking bird flu public awareness campaigns by the way of social media, newspapers and advertisements after the Centre had issued several advisories. It also requested the Union aviation ministry to allow uninterrupted transportation of samples for rapid testing in designated facilities.
(With agency inputs)
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