Eleven dead crows were confirmed as having died from avian influenza at Tata Colony in Chembur. (Pratik Chorge/HT Photo)
Eleven dead crows were confirmed as having died from avian influenza at Tata Colony in Chembur. (Pratik Chorge/HT Photo)

Bird flu cases in Maharashtra: Be vigilant, but don’t panic, urges CM Uddhav Thackeray

A day after the first case in Parbhani district, Maharashtra on Monday reported cases of bird flu or avian influenza in five places in the state – Mumbai, Thane, Ratnagiri, Beed and Latur
By Faisal Malik, Mumbai
UPDATED ON JAN 12, 2021 01:35 AM IST

A day after the first case in Parbhani district, Maharashtra on Monday reported cases of bird flu or avian influenza in five places in the state – Mumbai, Thane, Ratnagiri, Beed and Latur.

The ICAR-National Institute of High-Security Animal Diseases (NIHSAD), Bhopal, a nodal body for testing, confirmed bird flu cases at Mumbai, Thane, Ratnagiri and Beed districts. The central laboratory has found H5N1 avian influenza virus as cause of death in birds in the first three areas, except Beed, where mortalities were a result of the H5N8 avian influenza virus, states their report. Also, the Western Regional Disease Diagnostic laboratory (WRDDL), Pune, has found ‘H’ variant of the avian influenza in samples collected from Latur in central Maharashtra, following which preventive measures such as culling of poultry birds are going to be started in one-km radius of the infected area from Tuesday, confirmed state animal husbandry commissioner Sachindra Pratap Singh.

HT had reported on January 10 how over 843 poultry birds (chicken) died in a poultry farm in Parbhani district due to H5N1 avian influenza virus.

Singh said they have directed the local bodies to be on alert and start surveillance, especially in cities like Mumbai and Thane, where only crows have died. “Poultry birds in Mumbai and Thane haven’t died of bird flu. Local civic bodies have been directed to start surveillance of markets. Shops and those in business have been asked to report to the authorities concerned if they find any unusual deaths,” the commissioner said.

Chief minister (CM) Uddhav Thackeray on Monday urged people not to panic, as Mumbai, Thane, Ratnagiri, Beed and Latur, too, reported cases of bird flu, after Parbhani.

Thackeray held meetings with senior officials and district collectors to discuss measures to contain bird flu outbreak. He directed the local administration to be vigilant and implement all precautionary measures without any negligence. Thackeray also said in areas where there are no cases of bird flu, people can consume eggs and chicken after cooking or boiling them a 70°C for 30 minutes.

He also directed the development of a laboratory in the state that will help in early detection of the virus in future. The chief minister also urged people not to share misinformation or rumours about bird flu. State animal husbandry minister Sunil Kedar said they have not banned sale of chicken and eggs, except in the surveillance zone of 10-km radius where an infection was found in Parbhani district. Also, those found spreading rumors will be punished.

From January 8 till Monday, 1700 birds have died across the state. On Thursday, 15 pond egrets and two parrots were found dead in Thane and three crows in Mumbai. On Friday, six crows were found dead in Dapoli in Ratnagiri and 11 crows in Beed. Their samples were sent to the nodal testing body, ICAR-National Institute of High-Security Animal Diseases (NIHSAD), Bhopal, to ascertain the cause of deaths. On Saturday, around 200 poultry birds in Latur district, one crow in Akola, two crows each in Gondia and Chandrapur, one heron in Thane and three crows in Dapoli at Ratnagiri district were found dead. On Sunday, 160 more birds were found dead in several districts of the state. Of them, 43 and 40 poultry birds were found dead in Parbhani and Latur districts, respectively. Their reports from ICAR-NIHSAD are still awaited.

Deepak Muglikar, collector, Parbhani district, said they have ordered culling of 6,000 poultry birds. The village has also been declared as a prohibited area.

“The culling has started within one-km radius of the poultry farm where bird deaths were reported. We have created a surveillance zone within a periphery of 10-km, which means no birds will be allowed to sell or purchase in that area. Murumba village, where that poultry farm is situated, has also been declared a prohibited area, which means no one can enter inside and no one can come out. A medical team has been set up to examine people,” Muglikar told HT.

Moreover, 426 pet chickens raised by farmers were found dead in another village of Kupta in Parbhani district. The district collector said they have sent their samples to ICAR-NIHSAD.

Dr NM Markandeya, associate dean, college of veterinary and animal sciences, Parbhani, said, “No virus can survive the way we cook chicken or non-vegetarian food.”

Dr VV Limaye, joint commissioner (disease investigation), animal husbandry department, said both H5N1 and H5N8 are pathogenic for poultry birds but for human beings the difference between both the viruses is that there is no possibility of transmission of H5N8 into human beings, whereas H5N1 virus can transmit to human bodies only in case of major mutation. “No case such has been reported in the country as of now,” he said.

To monitor the situation, the animal husbandry department has set up a control room in Pune and has requested the people to report any such incident on toll free number 18002330418.

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