Vulture deaths spark flu scare | india | Hindustan Times
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Vulture deaths spark flu scare

The recovery of a large number of dead kites and vultures from an open landfill of the Army Cantonment Board at Ghinghalikhal and its adjoining forests in Ranikhet has raised fears of a major outbreak of bird flu.

india Updated: Jan 04, 2006 01:02 IST

The recovery of a large number of dead kites and vultures from an open landfill of the Army Cantonment Board at Ghinghalikhal and its adjoining forests in Ranikhet has raised fears of a major outbreak of bird flu.

“These birds are reported to have died within the past three days," said Mohan Singh Bhandari, forest range officer of Ranikhet. "So far, 40 carcasses of vultures have been recovered since we began scouring the forests surrounding the Army Cantonment Board's landfill site on Tuesday morning."

Veterinarians seem reluctant to pinpoint any reason for the deaths. "We can't say for sure what actually led to the mass deaths of these birds," said Dr Ashok Bisht, veterinary officer, Ranikhet, when asked if it was due to bird flu.

Bisht said he and his team of doctors recovered two seriously infected kites and carcasses of three birds (two kites, a crow) from Ghinghalikhal and its adjoining forests. "We've performed postmortems on the birds," he said. "The samples are being dispatched to a lab in Bhopal, where facilities are available to carry out tests pertaining to bird flu." One of the infected kites will be sent to the Indian Veterinary Research Institute, Bareilly, and the other to the Veterinary College of the GB Pant University of Agriculture and Technology, Pantnagar.

Bisht hinted that food poisoning could be the cause of the mass deaths of the birds. "This could be possible because we found traces of poultry waste in the bodies of the birds while doing postmortems on them," he said.

As a precaution, Bisht said the Army Cantonment Board would be asked to follow the Supreme Court order prohibiting the sale of meat without an examination by a vet.

On Tuesday, the state government issued an order prohibiting entry into the area where the birds were found dead. Top officials are, however, tightlipped on the issue.