800 poultry birds dead in Parbhani; Maharashtra sends samples to central laboratory

After Mumbai and Thane, three more districts have reported bird deaths on Friday, sparking fear of bird flu in the state. Taking this seriously, the state administration has sent samples to the central laboratory in Bhopal to ascertain if the deaths were caused by Bird Flu.

Around 800 poultry birds (chicken) and two herons were found dead in Parbhani district of central Maharashtra. Dapoli in Ratnagiri district and Beed district in central Maharashtra, too, reported deaths of six and 11 crows respectively.

An advisory issued by the animal husbandry department to the people and those in poultry business states, “Those found any unusual deaths of birds, migratory birds or poultry birds report it directly to the nearest veterinary clinic. They can report it to the animal husbandry commissionerate on toll free number 18002330418. They are also advised not to touch their dead body, or conduct their postmortem or bury them.

The state animal husbandry department on Friday sent samples from all five districts and cities to the National Institute of High-Security Animal Diseases (NIHSAD), Bhopal — a nodal body for testing the disease — to ascertain the cause of mortalities.

The decision to send the samples was taken despite the fact that the preliminary tests of crows, egrets and parrots found dead two days ago in Mumbai and Thane were negative. The tests were conducted at the Western Regional Disease Diagnostic laboratory (WRDDL) in Pune.

The state government insisted that there is no evidence of avian influenza or bird flu in the state as of now and people don’t need to panic. It has further clarified that consumption of eggs and chicken is safe.

“Any confirmation of bird flu is to be done only by NIHSAD. We have sent the samples of trachea and spleen to them to learn the reason behind the deaths of the birds. Humans can be affected with the H5N8 virus, but H has nine variants and N has 16 and their segregation and specific identification facility is available only at NIHSAD,” said Anoop Kumar, principal secretary, state animal husbandry department.

“The birds may have died either due to Ranikhet, a disease of poultry, or owing to malnutrition. These deaths including those of herons are unusual, hence we have sent all samples to NIHSAD to find out the cause of death. NIHSAD is expected to give its report in a day or two,” said Sachindra Pratap Singh, commissioner, animal husbandry.

Two days ago, 15 pond egrets, two parrots were found dead in Thane and three crows were found dead in Mumbai. Their samples were sent to WRDDL, Pune where test reports came negative.

“We are very cautious following the reports of bird deaths. The animal husbandry department and veterinary college in Parbhani are keeping a close watch and are monitoring if there are other deaths of poultry in the district. The local administration has also been asked to remain vigilant,” the principal secretary said.

A number of states such as Himachal Pradesh, Rajasthan, Kerala and Madhya Pradesh have reported bird flu cases leading to scare and culling of ducks, hens and other domestic birds within one km radius of the affected areas at a few places.

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