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Bird flu scare may shut down Delhi bird sanctuaries

According to a state wildlife department official, shutdown of the wildlife and bird sanctuaries in the city might be a necessary step.

delhi Updated: Oct 20, 2016 13:45 IST
Ritam Halder
Ritam Halder
Hindustan Times
Bird flu in Delhi,Bioird sancturies,Delhi zoo
A zoo worker spreads bleaching powder inside the main gate of the Delhi zoo which has been temporarily closed.(Virendra Singh Gosain/HT Photo)

The government is taking all necessary steps to contain the situation after 10 birds died of avian flu in Delhi zoo.

According to a state wildlife department official, shutdown of the wildlife and bird sanctuaries in the city might be a necessary step.

“It can happen everywhere. Surveys are being done at all the bird hot spots in the city and the reports will be submitted on Thursday,” the official said.

“We are looking for dead migratory birds. Earlier, there have been scares of bird flu. This is, however, the first time for Delhi that there are confirmed cases,” the official said.

In 2014, several geese were culled and Sukhna Lake in Chandigarh was cordoned off following a bird flu scare. The killings were carried out as a precautionary measure to prevent an outbreak of bird flu in the city and adjoining areas.

“Primary reason for spread of bird flu is usually contaminated feed and water. Contact with infected birds’ nasal and respiratory secretions could be another reason. Early reports of water birds and pelican being infected point towards both these reasons. Will know better after further investigation,” he said.

Asad R Rahmani, former director of the Bombay Natural History Society, said the outbreak is a serious issue. “In a zoo, there are a lot of caged birds too. The flu can easily spread to them. It can also spread to other green areas frequented by birds. But it depends on which species has got it and how it is interacting with other species,” Rahmani said.

He said samples of other zoo birds and seemingly fit birds, along with the carcasses, should be sent for testing. “These testings should be done on a priority basis at the Bhopal laboratory. There is no reason to panic but there should be precautions,” he said.

Read: Fears of bird flu in Delhi after H5N1 virus confirmed in dead migratory birds

The dead birds included painted stork, rosy pelican and common ducks. While the common ducks lived in a separate pond, the pelicans and storks live in one, an official said. The zoo will remain shut down for a few more days.

Veteran birdwatcher Wing Commander Vijay Sethi said shutting down the zoo has been a wise decision by the government. “Closing down an affected area temporarily helps to isolate the problem. If there is some evidence found of infected birds, the area can be quarantined,” Sethi said.

First Published: Oct 20, 2016 13:01 IST