PUNE/MUMBAI: Maharashtra chief minister Uddhav Thackeray will chair a meeting to review the bird flu situation in the state on Monday.
Maharashtra on Sunday had joined seven other states in reporting an outbreak of avian influenza or bird flu.
The presence of the H5N1 strain in Maharashtra was confirmed late on Sunday with Bhopal-based National Institute of High Security Animal Diseases finding it in the trachea and spleen samples of dead birds sent from the state for tests even as 11 more crows were found dead in Chembur in Mumbai.
Maharashtra animal husbandry commissioner Sachindra Pratap Singh told TOI that the samples of dead poultry birds from Muramba village in Parbhani and dead crows and pond egrets in Mumbai, Ghodbunder (Thane district) and Dapoli have returned positive for H5N1.
“Dead crow samples from a place in Beed have been found positive for H5N8. Both H5N1 and H5N8 are types of avian influenza. Culling of all birds will now be undertaken up to a 1km radius of the infected zone in Parbhani where the poultry samples were found positive. However, only surveillance will be continued in Mumbai, Ghodbunder, Dapoli and Beed,” Singh said.
As per the prescribed preventive measures, all poultry birds within 1km radius of the infected poultry farm at Murumba will be culled. Parbhani district collector Deepak Mugalikar said culling of over 8,000 hens has been ordered in the village concerned. But in Mumbai, Ghodbunder, Dapoli and Beed only surveillance will be continued.
The Maharashtra animal husbandry department has so far recorded 1,205 deaths of various birds since January 8.
“Around 2.30pm, 11 dead crows were found near Tata Colony in Chembur’s RCF area at 2.30pm,” RCF senior police inspector Sipon Noghote said. “Two birds were sent by the animal husbandry doctors to Pune for testing, the rest were disposed of.” BMC officials no such incident was reported to them. “We will find out the details on Monday,” said Ajit Narode, assistant municipal commissioner, M-East ward.
The Thane unit of the animal husbandry department said that they are yet to receive information on the positive reports, but claimed to be prepared to tackle the situation. The department has sought assistance from the municipal staff too, said Dr Vijay Dhumal, deputy commissioner, animal husbandry department, Thane. As many as 20 birds, including pond herons, parakeets, have been found dead over the last four days in various parts of Thane.
As per the Union ministry’s action plan for avian influenza, a series of immediate actions for rapid control and containment has to be taken by the state animal husbandry and public health departments in case of confirmed positive reports. These actions include setting up of a control room in the state, constitution of rapid response teams, identifying an “infected zone” within a 1km radius from the epicentre and a surveillance zone within 1-10km radius from the epicentre, providing details of poultry birds for culling in both these zones, and arranging for medicines/ disinfectants, providing personal protective equipment (PPE) kits, health check-ups and supply of oseltamivir/other antiviral drugs.
Unusual death, diarrhoea, purple discolouration of the wattles, combs and legs of the birds, soft-shelled or misshapen eggs, lack of energy and appetite, and nasal discharge are some of the signs of bird flu.
Meanwhile, no suspected bird flu cases have been reported at Veer Mata Jijabai Bhosale Udyan And Zoo in Byculla so far. “Byculla zoo has been shut since March-end when the coronavirus-induced lockdown was announced. So we didn’t have to impose any new restrictions on visitors. We are taking increased measures for sanitation and hygiene. So far there are no suspected cases at Byculla zoo. All birds are under observation,” Dr Sanjay Tripathi, zoo director, said.
State orders ‘humane’ culling of poultry birds in Parbhani
The Maharashtra animal husbandry department has called for “humane” culling of poultry birds—a quick twist of the neck (cervical dislocation). It has directed that a mixture of 80mg of sodium phenobarbital and 55ml water be used before manual or mechanical cervical dislocation for birds weighing above 3kg, in keeping with the OIE Terrestrial Animal Health Code 2019.
(With inputs from Prasad Joshi in Aurangabad)