The number of districts that recorded unexplained bird deaths in Maharashtra increased to 24 on Thursday, with Raigad recording three poultry birds deaths that may be linked to Avian Influenza or bird flu.
The number of dead birds in the state since January 8 has reached 3,378, with 382 deaths recorded on Thursday. So far, 12 dead birds have tested positive for bird flu.
As fears rise about the spread of bird flu in the state, the Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS) has halted the ringing of Flamingos that arrive in the city during winters (between November and March). Every year, since 2014, BNHS undertakes ringing of Flamingos, to study and understand the routes they use to fly, their migration patterns and resting sites.
Of the 382 fresh deaths, 331 were poultry birds. Of these, 47 died in Latur, 25 in Gondia, 86 in Chandrapur, 110 in Nagpur, 10 in Yavatmal, 50 in Satara and three in Raigad.
Other than poultry, 44 birds (herons, sparrows and parrots) were found dead in the state. Of these, 34 died in Sangli, one each in Amravati and Solapur, and eight peacocks in Wardha. Seven crows were also found dead – one each in Nashik, Yavatmal and Nandurbar and two each from Pune and Jalgaon districts.
In Pune, RT-PCR tests are first conducted on samples of dead birds, which give results in 48 to 72 hours. The test is conducted to check whether there is a presence of H5 (Hemagglutinin type five) in a sample, which confirms the bird flu virus. Once it is confirmed, samples are sent to the National Institute of High-Security Animal Diseases in Bhopal and Disease Investigation Section (DIS), at Aundh in Pune, to check for virus sub-type H5N1 or H5N8.
The traces of H5N1 are highly pathogenic Avian Influenza while H5N8 is low pathogenic Avian Influenza. Of the 66 samples tested at DIS, results of 22 samples are awaited.
Eight poultry bird samples from Parbhani, Latur, Beed and Nanded districts have been confirmed for the H5 strain of bird flu while 13 poultry samples from Akola, Amravati, Ahmednagar, Pune and Solapur have tested negative for bird flu.
Nine crow samples from Mumbai, Beed, Thane, Ratnagiri, Nashik and Nanded have tested positive while sample of one crow from Chandrapur has tested negative, said the state animal husbandry department.
The 24 districts where unnatural bird deaths have been reported are Yavatmal, Akola, Amravati, Mumbai, Thane, Ratnagiri, Beed, Parbhani, Latur, Gondia, Chandrapur, Nagpur, Nashik, Nanded, Satara, Ahmednagar, Pune, Solapur, Bhandara, Raigad, Sangli, Wardha, Nandurbar and Jalgaon.