NOIDA: The Noida administration and the forest and veterinary departments have constituted a task force that will watch out for symptoms of flu in migratory birds. The move comes against the backdrop of bird flu outbreaks in Kerala, Himachal Pradesh, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh.
The vigil is all the more crucial for Noida because the district at the moment is reported to have at least 20,000 migratory birds in the sanctuaries and wetlands. Officials said they had been receiving panic calls from residents as any dead bird on the road has been arousing fear of the flu. They appealed to people not to draw any conclusions, pointing out there had been no reports of bird flu in Delhi-NCR so far.
As part of the vigil, the district administration and the forest department have been conducting regular checks around water bodies and forested areas and keeping tabs on the behaviour of birds. “So far, there is no case of bird flu in Delhi-NCR. If flu strikes, the consequences will be visible. Hundreds of birds will die at the same time. We are conducting checks and will take immediate action if anything alarming is detected,” said Virendra Kumar Singh, the chief veterinary officer of the district.
This time, around 20,000 migratory birds are estimated to be visiting the bird sanctuaries at Okhla and Surajpur and the wetlands and forest areas. “This is why we have formed the task force. It will primarily keep vigil in the forest areas and sanctuaries. The forest department has already started a surveillance of its own and a directive has been issued to its officials to keep safe distance from the birds. Usually, there is no contact with the birds, but we have still issued an alert,” said Suhas LY, the Noida district magistrate.
The forest department said they were preparing to deal with any kind of emergency. “We have already formed a team to go around forest areas and wetlands and they have been directed to remain alert. So far, there is no case of bird flu here yet, but we are preparing to deal with any sort of eventualities,” said PK Srivastava, the district forest officer.
Nadeem Shehzad of Wildlife Rescue, a bird rehabilitation centre, agreed there was a sense of anxiety among people following reports of bird flu in other states. Asked about flu symptoms in birds, he said they are marked by the sudden death of a bird, discolouration of legs, misshaped eggs, sneezing, etc. The flu is also known to infect humans, who are likely to have fever, cough, sore throat, conjunctivitis and muscle aches.
However, experts in the animal husbandry department in New Delhi said there was no need to worry about consuming poultry products as of now. “There are no prominent poultry farms in NCR. Whatever is brought from outside is consumed immediately. So, there is no fear of contamination of breeding birds just yet. But all departments are now aware of signs of the avian flu. This has been recurring for years now,” an official said.