Chilika out of bounds for guests
Chilika Lake, a favoured destination of avians, gears up to preempt an outbreak of H5N1 virus among humans.india Updated: Feb 21, 2006 03:42 IST
With reports of the first bird flu cases in India hitting headlines, the authorities at Chilika Lake — a favoured destination of avians from colder climes — geared up to pre-empt an outbreak of the H5N1 virus among humans.
As part of the fire-fighting measures, a ban has been imposed on the entry of visitors into the Chilika (Nalabana) sanctuary to shield them from migratory birds. Nearly three lakh migratory birds from Central Asia, China and the Far East are still at Chilika preparing for their return journey with winter on its way out.
The authorities have also launched an awareness drive in villages in the vicinity of the lake. Announcements are being made over loudspeakers against consumption of bird meat and villagers are being instructed keep their pigs, ducks and poultry confined in clean and hygiene places. Slide shows are also being organised to create awareness about the dangers from migratory birds.
Last month, 1,685 migratory birds died at Chilika raising spectres of bird flu. Samples were collected from the carcasses and sent to various laboratories.
However, Abhimanyu Behera, district forest officer (DFO) in charge of Chilika Lake, told the Hindustan Times, "So far, there is no cause to panic. The samples of the dead migratory birds had already been sent to the High Security Animal Disease Laboratory in Bhopal and Regional Disease Diganostic Laboratory in Kolkata. The H5N1 strain of virus was not found in any of the samples sent and the test reports ascribed the deaths to bacterial infection. Still, we are taking adequate precautions".
According to the DFO, this year around 6.7 lakh birds had migrated to Chilika and around 3 lakh of them are still in the neighbourhood.
"As part of the precautionary measures, all visitors have been restricted from entering the points where bird congregation is highest," Behera added.
The Chilika Development Authority (CDA) is keeping a close watch on the external behaviour of the birds. The CDA is also taking steps to shield the indigenous birds from coming in contact with the winged guests.