Here are the top developments on Bird flu in the country.

A three-member Central team comprising top scientists reached Kerala Thursday to assess the situation arising out of the outbreak of bird flu in Alappuzha and Kottayam districts even as its effect began to be felt on the poultry farming industry in several states.

The team, comprising Union Health Ministry’s public health specialist Dr Ruchi Jain, Pune National Institute of Virology scientist Dr Shailesh Pawar and Delhi RML Hospital physician Dr Anith Jindal, held discussions with district authorities at the collectorate in Alappuzha, news agency PTI reported. The team later visited Karuatta, one of the hotspots of the flu outbreak.

As per the Kerala government, over 69,000 birds, including ducks and chicken, were culled in the districts of Alappuzha and Kottayam till Wednesday to contain the H5N8 strain of bird flu. As many as 19 Rapid Response Teams have so far been engaged in culling birds in both the districts and the regions suspected to have infected the birds will be sanitised on Thursday.

State Animal Husbandry Minister K Raju said there was no history of the H5N8 virus being transmitted to humans. Sale of bird meat and eggs in the affected regions has also been prohibited by authorities.

Avian influenza or bird flu is a highly contagious viral disease caused by Influenza Type A viruses, which generally affects poultry birds such as chicken and turkey. There are many strains of the virus; some of them are mild and may merely cause a dip in egg production or other mild symptoms among chickens, while others are severe and lethal.

Six crows found dead in Karnataka, samples sent for testing

Six crows were found dead in Karnataka’s Dakshina Kannada district amid a new strain of avian influenza being reported in several parts of the country.

According to the health department, samples have been sent for testing to identify if birds died of the virus. “Six crows have died in Dakshina Kannada district and samples are sent for testing. Precautionary measures have been taken in border districts to prevent the bird flu,” Karnataka State Health and Medical Education Minister Dr K Sudhakar said.

Dakshina Kannada district shares a border with Kerala, which had declared the outbreak of bird flu in two districts- Kottayam and Alappuzha as a state disaster. Karnataka has put four bordering districts on high alert on Wednesday.

Meanwhile, the Zoo Authority of Karnataka stated that preventive measures have been taken across zoos in the state.

64 crows found dead in Himachal, migratory birds’ toll reaches 3,409

Sixty-four crows have been found dead in the last few days in areas near the Pong wetland in Kangra, Himachal government officials said Thursday. The carcasses were found in the wildlife ranges of Dhameta and Nagrota, and a number of crows were also reportedly found dead in Bilaspur district, officials said, adding that samples of the birds have been collected for testing.

On Monday, samples of dead migratory birds found at the Pong Dam Lake had tested positive for H5N1 avian influenza, a type of bird flu caused by the H5N1 strain of Influenza A virus.

The death toll of migratory birds at the Pong lake wildlife sanctuary has reached 3,409, including 381 birds found dead on Thursday, said Chief Wildlife Warden Archana Sharma.

Animal husbandry officials are trying to contain the virus from spreading to domesticated birds, or further to humans, and have been randomly testing poultry samples from areas around the Pong lake. On Wednesday, around 500 chicken carcasses were found dumped by the side of the Chandigarh-Shimla highway at Chakki Mor in Solan district. Officials said test reports of poultry samples from both the areas are still awaited.

No case in Delhi yet: Manish Sisodia

Delhi Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia Thursday said that there was no case of bird flu in the city yet and urged officials to keep a close watch on poultry birds coming in from neighbouring states to prevent any infection.

“There is no positive case in Delhi yet. Eleven rapid response teams have been set up to monitor Delhi’s potential hotspots,” a statement issued following a meeting between Sisodia and officials of the animal husbandry unit of the Development Department said.

He also instructed them to maintain a strict vigil on birds at major bird sites, especially poultry markets, water bodies, zoos and other potential hotspots including Ghazipur Fish and Poultry Market, Shakti Sthal Lake, Sanjay Lake, Bhalswa Horseshoe Lake, Delhi Zoo, and smaller water bodies in DDA parks among others.

Demand for chicken drops in Gujarat

The outbreak of avian influenza in several states across the country had its impact on poultry farming industry in Gujarat with prices plunging below the cost of production due to apprehension among consumers.

The Gujarat Broiler Farmers Coordination Committee (GBFCC) has blamed the loss suffered by the industry to “unfounded” campaign creating panic among consumers.

Anwesh Patel, president of GBFCC and owner of around 10 poultry farms in Anand district, says that the consumption of broiler chicken in Gujarat is pegged at 600 tonnes per day and the industry has seen a 90% dip in sales since Monday.

“The cost of production is Rs 80 per kg of chicken. Gujarat poultry industry supplies 75 lakh broiler chickens per month, weighing about two kilos each on an average. That makes it 20 lakh broiler chickens per week and a weight of 44 lakh kilos. Every poultry farm has a production cycle that cannot be broken. The chickens that are in production will continue to grow and as long as they are in the farm, they have to be fed,” Patel told The Indian Express.

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