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Maharashtra: Bird deaths cross 6,000 since Jan 8 in state

The number of bird deaths in Maharashtra has reached 6,816 since January 8. After the confirmation of bird flu deaths by the ICAR-National Institute of High-Security Animal Diseases (NIHSAD), Bhopal, close to 10,000 poultry birds and 500 eggs have been culled across seven districts.

On Monday, 829 birds were found dead in the state. The highest casualty was reported on Saturday, when around 1,200 birds were found dead across the state. Of the total, 699 poultry birds were found dead, while 67 were crows, and the remaining were parrots, herons and migratory birds.

Last week, the animal husbandry department had culled 11,063 poultry birds in Latur district and 3,443 from Parbhani.

The ICAR-NIHSAD has confirmed bird flu in poultry chickens at 11 places covering eight districts — Parbhani, Latur, Nanded, Pune, Solapur, Beed, Ahmednagar and Raigad, on Friday. “The poultry bird samples from Amravati and Akola have been reported negative for the Avian Influenza,” stated the animal husbandry department.

The state animal husbandry department on Monday directed the district not to impose any kind of ban on the movement and sale of live poultry birds and eggs. A letter from the principal secretary of the animal husbandry department to its commissioner says while there have been confirmed cases of pathogenic avian influenza in the state, banning of movement of poultry reported in some districts-is “not at all justifiable and does not have any scientific basis”.

The letter states the ban should be imposed only within the radius of 10 km of an infected zone, and that till date, there is no report of human infection or scientific reports about the spread of the infection through consumption of cooked and processed poultry products.

It clarifies that advisories have been issued to not ban movement of poultry and poultry products, yet many states have imposed such restrictions on the sale of chicken and eggs. It directs the commissioner to write to district collectors to not impose such bans. “Kindly ensure the seamless marketing of poultry products sourced from the non-infected zones or areas is smoothly taking place everywhere,” it states.

The Central government, on Monday, approved the upgradation of the Disease Investigation Section (DIS) at Pune. Currently at DIS, RT-PCR tests are conducted on dead birds’ samples which give results in 48-72 hours. The test is conducted to check the presence of H5 (Hemagglutinin type five) in a sample which confirms the bird flu virus. Once confirmed, samples are then transported to the National Institute of High-Security Animal Diseases in Bhopal to check if the strain of bird flu is N1 or N8. The traces of H5N1 are highly pathogenic Avian influenza, while H5N8 is low pathogenic Avian influenza.

“Once we complete the BSL 3 lab at WRDDL, there will be no dependence on NISHAD lab for confirmation of bird flu strain,” said Anoop Kumar, Principal Secretary (Animal Husbandry).

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