Odisha orders poultry cull after bird flu outbreak

Odisha has ordered culling of more than 2,500 chickens and other poultry after four dead crows and three dead poultry tested positive for the highly pathogenic H5N1 virus, officials said on Tuesday.

The decision followed confirmation by the Department of Animal Husbandry, Dairying and Fisheries under the central agriculture ministry regarding the presence of H5N1 strain of avian influenza virus in the samples sent from Keranga village of Odisha's Khordha district.

The bird flu virus was confirmed at Keranga village, about 35 km from Bhubaneswar, the capital of Odisha, veterinary officials said, days after dozens of crows and chickens were found dead.

The samples from the epicenter were sent to the National Institute of High Security Animal Diseases (NIHSAD), Bhopal, which on Sunday confirmed that these samples were found positive in RT-PCR and real time RT-PCR for H5N1 strain of avian influenza virus.

The centre has asked the state authorities to carry out control and containment operations as per 'Action Plan of Animal Husbandry for Preparedness, Control and Containment of Avian Influenza (2015).'

The ministry of health and family welfare said necessary actions have been taken by the state government, including declaration of infected and surveillance areas, restricting access to the infected premises; destruction of birds, disposal of dead birds and infected materials, clean-up and disinfection followed by sealing of the premises and issue of sanitization certificate, post operations surveillance, imposition of legislative measures etc along with necessary measures laid down in the contingency plan.

In addition to the culling of birds, surveillance will be carried out over a radius up to 10 km from the epicenter and a daily report on the control and containment operations will be furnished to the animal husbandry department.

The centre has also notified international organization of the bird flu outbreak. Surveillance throughout the state has also been intensified to monitor further spread of infection.

More than 30,000 birds were culled in a similar outbreak in the region in 2012.

The H5N1 strain is considered as highly pathogenic. It can also transmit to animals such as pigs, horse, large cats, dogs and occasionally humans.

China reported two fatalities from H7N9 bird flu last week, its first fatalities among this winter's cases, stoking fears the virus could spread at a time when other Asian nations are battling to control outbreaks of the disease.

South Korea and Japan have been scrambling to contain outbreaks of different strains of bird flu, with the poultry industry there bracing for heavy financial losses.