It’s official — bird flu killed 4.37 lakh chickens in Barwala

Culling of 1.66 lakh birds at five farms begins today

It’s official — bird flu killed 4.37 lakh chickens in Barwala

Amid the bird flu scare, a woman feeds chicks at a poultry farm in Barwala of Panchkula district. TRIBUNE PHOTO: RAVI KUMAR

Amit Bathla

Tribune News Service

Panchkula, January 8

Finally, it was confirmed today that avian influenza (H5N8) or bird flu killed more than 4.37 lakh poultry birds in Barwala and Raipur Rani of Panchkula, putting all speculations of extreme weather conditions or Ranikhet disease as the reason behind the unusual fatalities to rest.

Nine survey teams

Nine teams of the Health Department will conduct a survey in villages around the two hotspots to keep a vigil on human transmission of avian influenza. The villages identified for the survey are Tibbi Majra, Badona Kallan, Kheri, Haryoli, Garhi Kotaha, Dandrawal, Pyarewala, Firojpur and Haripur.

After apparent attempts by the district authorities to keep the mysterious disease (before it was declared bird flu) under wraps, two of the three samples sent to High Security Animal Disease Laboratory in Bhopal tested positive for H5N8.

The reports of at least three samples taken from SKM Poultries in Mouli village (Raipur Rani) came negative.

Five samples collected by a team of the Northern Regional Disease Laboratory, Jalandhar, from the Barwala belt also tested positive. A source at the laboratory said the samples would reach the Bhopal-based lab by tomorrow evening for confirmation as per protocol. The Barwala belt is considered Asia’s second largest poultry belt with a daily production capacity of 1 crore eggs. Two epicentres of the bird flu were identified as Siddharth Poultry Farm in Kheri village (Raipur Rani) and Nature Poultry Farm in Ganauli village (Raipur Rani).

Surprisingly, there were no signs of immediate control, prevention and containment even hours after the confirmation of the disease in the region, with no restriction on the movement of people. The bird culling operations will be done in the 1-km radius of the epicentres of the disease, declared as infected zone. The culling will start tomorrow at 7 am.

A 10-km surveillance zone — 0-3km active surveillance and 3-10 km passive surveillance — has also been declared where all shops and market dealing with poultry products and eggs will be closed till completion of culling and sanitisation operations. At least 59 response teams will cull 1.66 lakh birds in five poultry farms — Siddharth (1,728 birds), Narender (38,196 birds), Naveen (59,933 birds), Sunil (50,271 birds) and Nature (16,000 birds). The poultry farm owners will be compensated at Rs90 per bird.

The movement of birds has also been restricted from these poultry farms.

Animal husbandry officials claimed check-posts had been set up in the infected areas. Meanwhile, the Health Department has launched a survey and awareness campaign in and around the infected areas in the district. Tamiflu tablets are being distributed to workers in poultry farms. Tamiflu is typically taken for 10 days – 1 tablet per day.

People are being screened for fever and other symptoms. Those developing influenza-like symptoms will be isolated at the Community Health Centre in Raipur Rani. Officials said the H5N8 virus was not fatal for human beings. However, mutations might occur and the virus could be transmitted to human beings.

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