Rapid response teams formed, alert sounded over bird flu scare in Telangana

With several states prepping to contain the H5N8 strain of bird flu, the Telangana forest department on Wednesday announced a series of measures to identify the causes of death of any bird in the state and also sounded an alert.

Telangana principal chief conservation of forests and chief wildlife warden R Sobha said instructions had been issued to the authorities of zoological parks in Hyderabad and Warangal, besides various birds and wildlife sanctuaries in the state to constitute Rapid Response Teams for conducting patrolling in areas where migratory birds congregate.

Similar directions have been given to all the circle heads and division heads. The field officers have been instructed to collect the carcasses of birds during this period, pack them safely and send them to veterinary science laboratories for analysing and identifying the cause of death, she said.

Sobha said during the winter season, a large number of migrant birds from Northern region of Himalayas come to southern states. “These birds nest and breed in water bodies. Since these birds travel over long distances crossing several states, it is essential to keep track of these birds at the nesting and breeding sites. Suitable instructions have been issued in this regard,” she said.

The PCCF requested the general public also to be alert during the period and if any dead bird is noticed, they can pass the information to the wildlife crime control cell at Aranya Bhavan, Hyderabad with toll free number 18004255364, which functions around the clock.

She said district forest officers had been asked to coordinate with animal husbandry as well as the district administration in taking required preventive measures and vigil to detect death of birds.

Telangana minister for animal husbandry T Srinivasa Yadav, who held a meeting with higher officials of the department following an alert from the Centre, said there were no reports of any bird flu cases from any part of the state so far.

“We have collected 276 random samples from various poultry farms and tested them for bird flu, but did not find any trace of the disease. We have, however, alerted the officials at all levels to prevent the outbreak of the virus,” Yadav said.

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