The Panchkula administration on Monday collected samples of 30 poultry workers in Barwala-Raipur Rani belt to test for bird flu.
Considered Asia’s second largest poultry belt, with daily production of more than 1 crore eggs and employing 15,000 workers at around 120 farms, the region has witnessed the death of over one lakh chickens in at least 10 farms in the past few days.
Two days ago, the animal husbandry department had sent 80 blood samples of poultry and five carcasses to a laboratory to know the cause of these mass deaths. The report is awaited.
Meanwhile, there have been reports of bird flu from various parts of the country, including Kangra district in Himachal Pradesh. Bird flu, also known as avian influenza, is a variety of influenza caused by a virus in birds. It can spread to humans and can trigger a person-to-person transmission.
While no updated mortality figures have been shared by the Panchkula administration, an official, requesting anonymity, said: “Deaths have increased manifold.” A poultry farmer in Barwala, who too did not wish to be named, said over one lakh chickens had died at his farm alone since December 17.
Dr Jasjeet Kaur, civil surgeon, Panchkula, said: “We have taken 30 samples from workers working at three poultry farms in the Barwala-Raipur Rani belt as a precautionary measure. The samples will be sent to the National Institute of Virology, Pune, to test for avian influenza.”
Instructions issued to poultry owners
The health department has also issued instructions to poultry farm owners to restrict unnecessary movement and to immediately inform the Raipur Rani senior medical officer in case any worker shows flu-like symptoms. They have been asked to wear masks and take other precautions, said Dr Kaur.
Dr Anil Kumar, deputy director, animal husbandry and dairying department, said: “We have asked the poultry farm owners to bury their dead chickens deep into the soil and spray sodium bicarbonate on the burial site.”
Meanwhile, Darshan Kumar, president, Haryana Poultry Farmers’ Association, maintained that the number of deaths had not gone up, and there was no impact on sales. Even Ashish Kumar, president of the meat market association in Chandigarh’s Sector 21, said the deaths were due to extreme cold and there was nothing to worry. He, too, said there had been no adverse impact on sales.
Chandigarh wildlife dept on alert too
The Chandigarh forest and wildlife department has sounded an alert in the city after reports of deaths of birds due to avian flu in neighbouring states. The veterinary department has been asked to keep tight vigil.
“So far, no unnatural behaviour has been seen among migratory birds at Sukhna Lake or the sanctuary. That’s why no sample has been taken at the lake so far,” an official of the wildlife department said.
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