Indian state of Jharkhand issues bird flu alert

Authorities in the eastern Indian state of Jharkhand on Wednesday issued an alert following the outbreak of bird flu in one of the government-run poultry farms.

The bird flu outbreak has been confirmed at a government-run poultry farm in Lohanchal of Bokaro district, which is about 120 km northeast of Ranchi, the capital city of Jharkhand.

According to officials, around 700 to 800 chickens have died over the past week due to the outbreak at the farm.

“Following the confirmation about the bird flu in Bokaro, instructions have been issued to set up control rooms in all 24 districts to monitor the situation,” an official of the state animal husbandry department said.

“The top officials have also met to discuss the issue and decided to cull the remaining birds at the affected poultry farm to contain the spread of the disease.”

The local animal husbandry department has immediately put into place prescribed standard operating procedures (SOPs) after confirmation of avian influenza (H5N1) in the samples sent from the poultry farm to the Bhopal-based National Institute of High-Security Animal Diseases (NIHSAN).

Based on the SOPs, the area within one km radius of the affected poultry farm was declared as an affected zone, and areas within 10 km radius were earmarked as the surveillance zone. The animal husbandry department has formed teams that will be conducting random sampling within a 10-km radius in Bokaro to check the possible spread.

As per officials, the sale of poultry birds will be banned in these areas until further orders. The local administration has urged people to refrain from consuming poultry birds until the situation improves.

Bird flu is a highly infectious and severe respiratory disease in birds caused by the H5N1 influenza virus, which can occasionally infect humans as well. ■

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