No bird flu cases in Delhi yet, sample collection ordered to check spread

With at least four states across India reporting the spread of avian influenza or bird flu, Delhi on Thursday launched a large-scale sample collection drive to prevent its spread in the city-state even as wholesale rates of chicken dropped by ₹15-20 in a day, poultry traders said.

In neighbouring Gautam Budh Nagar, the divisional forest department on Thursday has restricted access to certain areas of Okhla Bird Sanctuary and closed the Surajpur wetland to visitors as a preventive measure.

Thousands of birds have died in Kerala (mostly poultry), Himachal Pradesh (migratory birds), and Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh (crows) since the start of the outbreak in December-end.

Deputy chief minister Manish Sisodia, who is also Delhi’s development and animal husbandry minister, held a meeting on Thursday to review the situation. Soon after the meeting, Sisodia put out a statement that Delhi has not reported a single case of bird flu so far.

“Doctors of all 48 veterinary hospitals of the government’s animal husbandry unit are continuously monitoring the situation across Delhi. Also, 11 rapid response teams have been formed which have been asked to regularly collect samples. So far, more than 100 samples have been collected and sent to the designated lab in Jalandhar, Punjab. The report is expected on Monday,” Sisodia said after the meeting.

He directed officials to keep a close watch on poultry birds being brought in from neighbouring states, and instructed them to keep a close watch on migratory bird spots, poultry markets, water bodies, zoos and other potential hot spots.

The sites from where samples are being collected include Ghazipur fish and poultry market, Shakti Sthal lake, Sanjay lake, Bhalswa horseshoe lake, Delhi zoo, and smaller water bodies in parks.

Traders said after the Central government issued advisories to states on Wednesday regarding bird flu, the impact was seen on Thursday — a drop in sales which also resulted in a price drop of ₹15-20 for a kilogram.

“In just a single day, the wholesale price of a kilogram of chicken in Delhi has reduced from ₹90 to ₹70-75. The number of trucks arriving at Ghazipur market on Thursdays is about 80, and today, too, around 76 trucks arrived at the market. But people have stopped buying chicken even though there is not a single case of bird flu in the city as of now,” said Iqbal Qureshi, general secretary of Ghazipur wholesale poultry association.

Traders said the price of chicken would fall further if bird flu cases start emerging in Delhi. They insisted that chicken sold in Delhi are “100% safe” as these birds undergo medical checks before being brought to the Ghazipur wholesale market.

The divisional forest department, Gautam Budh Nagar, on Thursday restricted access to certain areas of Okhla Bird Sanctuary and closed the Surajpur wetland for visitors as a preventive measure against bird flu. Forest department officials also held an inspection at the Okhla Bird Sanctuary to check for any unusual death of avifauna and later issued a caution against bird flu.

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