Lab results for suspected bird flu samples may take another week
Laboratory reports of two wild bird carcasses — a crow and an egret — which were sent to the National Institute of High Security Animal Diseases (NIHSAD) in Bhopal to be tested for bird flu, are likely to take another week to arrive, said officials in the district animal husbandry department on Thursday. This is despite the preliminary tests conducted by the Regional Disease Diagnostic Lab in Jalandhar, following which the samples were suspected to be positive for avian influenza.
Suspicions regarding a possible outbreak of avian influenza arose earlier in January and had prompted Haryana government to notify an outbreak of influenza strain H5N8, with Panchkula’s Ganauli and Kheri villages as the epicentre. On January 8, the district wildlife department retrieved four wild bird carcasses, of which two were sent to the lab in Jalandhar for testing.
A senior official in the district animal husbandry department, seeking anonymity, said, “We have not yet received any confirmatory statement on whether the samples are indeed positive for bird flu. There seems to be a large backlog of samples sent to the lab from other states that is slowing down the process. It may also be that the samples in fact turned out negative for avian influenza, and therefore the lab is expediting positive reports so that containment operations can be started, wherever needed. We have been told to expect the reports in a week.”
Dr Punita Gahlot, the animal husbandry department’s deputy director in Gurugram, confirmed that there have not been any unusual, or excess, deaths among poultry birds in the district. She also confirmed that the department is going to step up clinical surveillance of poultry farms this week, bringing smaller backyard units into the rotation (as opposed to only those farms with a high density of birds). This is being done after a suspected outbreak from Kohand village in Karnal district was reported on Tuesday. Punjab, too, has begun culling poultry this week after confirmation of bird flu at two farms in Dera Bassi.
Wildlife inspector Rajesh Chahal, who is the forest department’s nodal officer for all bird flu-related matters, also said that no unusual mortality of wild birds (whether domestic or migratory) has so far been reported from Najafgarh, Basai and Sultanpur wetlands in Gurugram. “We are also in touch with wildlife department staff in neighbouring districts. For now, our orders are to keep doing daily patrols, but there doesn’t seem to be any cause for alarm, “ said Chahal.
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