Sunday, December 21, 2014 | UPDATED 02:19 IST

Sukhna surveillance stepped up

BIRD FLU IN CHANDIGARH: Centre certifies de-contamination of affected zone as a first preventive step21 Dec 2014 | 2:06 AM

NEW DELHI:The Centre today issued a sanitisation certificate to the Chandigarh Administration after it reported successful de-contamination of the Sukhna Lake island and its one km radius where captive geese died of avian influenza.

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Aditi Tandon

Tribune News Service

New Delhi, December 20

The Centre today issued a sanitisation certificate to the Chandigarh Administration after it reported successful de-contamination of the Sukhna Lake island and its one km radius where captive geese died of avian influenza. 

The certification came after the UT Administration, in its report to the Central Animal Husbandry Department under the Ministry of Agriculture, said 110 captive geese had been culled in the avian influenza containment operation that began on December 18 after the disease was notified.

The Chandigarh authorities have mentioned in their report details of the operation and that they have buried dead geese as per the laid down procedure.

This is the first time India has witnessed H5N1 outbreak among non-commercial captive geese in a lake under forest control. In the past, outbreaks have been reported among birds reared commercially for consumption.

Rajbir Singh Rana, Joint Secretary, Animal Husbandry, Government of India, told The Tribune today: "We are satisfied with the report on infection containment and control sent by the Chandigarh Administration. Issuance of a sanitisation certificate means the culling of the infected geese has been successfully done and immediate fear of the spread of infection controlled.  Now, post-operation surveillance has begun which will last for three months.”

The post-operation surveillance will involve three rounds of samplings from domestic and migratory birds within 10 km radius of Sukhna Lake. “Every month, for the next three months, our teams will work with the UT Administration, Punjab and Haryana to test random samples from poultry birds in farms and private backyards, ducks and also migratory birds. The checks will also be done on birds reared privately and in ponds at clubs and in villages. The idea is to root out the risk of infection," Rana said.

Asked if poultry products needed to be avoided, central expert Dr Bhambal said: "Cooked poultry is safe for consumption as per the WHO guidelines. Our checks on poultry birds are for potential infection control.”

The lake will remain restricted to public for a month to start with. Animal husbandry officials said the team of experts from Bhopal will reach Chandigarh on December 23 for environmental sampling of water, both waste and lake water, droppings from geese and wildlife birds around Sukhna. "By the end of next week, we will have the report of environmental samples and we will know if there are any avian flu strains in the lake water,” Rana said.

Meanwhile, experts of the Ministry of Health are in Chandigarh to assess human health component after the outbreak. Anti-viral stocks for a month are ready. So far, no infection has been reported. Veterinarians involved in culling operations are also safe and will remain quarantined for nine more days.

As for samplings of domestic birds within 10 km radius of Sukhna, ministry officials said the work would be done with the help of  Punjab and Haryana governments. 

Sukhna surveillance stepped upWorkers prepare to begin the operation to cull geese at the Sukhna Lake on December 18, 2014, following a dead goose's testing positive for bird flu. Tribune photo: Pradeep Tewari
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