Delhi zoo reports first bird flu death, doubles down on safety measures
Delhi Zoo on Saturday confirmed its first case of bird flu, after samples taken from an owl that was found dead on its premises on Monday, came out to positive. Senior zoo officials said that all safety protocol laid down by the Centre was being followed.
Ramesh Pandey, director, National Zoological Park, said, “The zoo witnessed the death of a brown fish owl in its captivity. Its cloacal, tracheal and ocular swabs were sent to the animal husbandry unit of the Delhi government for serological examination, which returned positive for H5N8 avian influenza.”
“As per standard protocol and guidelines issued by the Central Zoo Authority (CZA), ministry of environment forests and climate change (MoEFCC) and the animal husbandry department of Delhi government, sanitation and surveillance drills have been intensified in the zoo and all possible preventive and prophylactic measures are being taken,” he added.
Environment ministry officials confirmed that with the positive case at Delhi zoo, safety protocol at the premises had been intensified. The only solace this time, as compared to the last avian flu breakout at the zoo in 2016, is that this time the zoo is already closed for the general public. This will make managing the flu among the inhabitants a lot easier, according to officials.
“Two barn owls, which were next to the enclosure of the owl that tested positive, have been isolated. A close watch is being kept on the migratory birds, who may be carriers. Zoo staff have been distributed special drapers and personal protective equipment (PPE) kits. They are following our advisory and are in constant touch with the ministry of animal husbandry. The zoo is closed, so there is no fear of transmission to people,” said Soumitra Dasgupta, environment ministry’s additional director-general.
In a statement issued, the ministry also said that the zoo authorities have been directed to use disinfectant spray of lime juice, Virkon-S and sodium hypochlorite, and foot bath of potassium permanganate is being done at regular intervals.
“Chicken feed to raptors and entry of vehicles inside the zoo had already been stopped. This is being further reinforced and intensified. Movement of staff and workers in zoo is also being restricted and regulated keeping in view the animal influenza threats,” the ministry statement read.