Departments to prepare for possible bird flu outbreak
The department of animal husbandry on Tuesday has called a meeting of 11 departments in the district on January 14 to discuss their roles and responsibilities in containing a possible outbreak of avian influenza. While lab reports of two bird samples sent to Jalandhar are awaited, officials said they are operating under the assumption that they will test positive for bird flu, in which case culling of poultry may be required.
Thursday’s meeting, to be presided over by Dr Punita Gahlot, the deputy director of animal husbandry, is likely to be attended by the police, public health, forests and wildlife, revenue and land reform, public works, panchayat administration, and the disaster management cell officials, in addition to the deputy commissioner and municipal commissioner.
“So far, we have been focussing on conducting clinical surveillance at poultry farms and training our veterinarians. But containing an outbreak requires a lot of coordination among various line departments. For example, the police will be required to provide manpower to field teams when they visit poultry farms. Then, the revenue department is responsible for disbursing monetary compensation to affected farmers whose birds are being culled, and for drawing up epidemic maps and identifying safe burial sites,” said a senior veterinary officer with the district animal husbandry department, seeking anonymity.
Similarly, the deputy commissioner will be the nodal authority for ordering a ban, if required, on sale and transport of poultry products, either from the district or from containment zones. The deputy commissioner will also be responsible for coordinating all financial and logistical support for the containment operation, should one be required.
The department of public health, meanwhile, will be responsible for monitoring the health of all veterinarians, livestock handlers and safai karmacharis involved in culling of birds, and will also provide them with antiviral drugs as a precaution. The public works department will supply disinfection and fogging machines, and any other heavy infrastructure (such as earthmovers), which may be required for culling and burying carcasses.
Department officials, not authorised to speak on the record, also said that they have reached out to the Regional Disease Diagnostic Lab in Jalandhar, requesting them to expedite the test results of two carcasses. “We may receive the sample results in a day or two. If they test positive, we may not begin culling immediately since there is no excess mortality of poultry in Gurugram till today. We may send chicken samples for tests first,” said the veterinary officer cited above.
Dr Gahlot declined to comment but confirmed that a meeting to apprise other arms of the district administration has been convened at 11am on Thursday.