Delhi has become the ninth state to confirm cases of bird flu amid concerns over the spread of the disease in several states.
“Bird flu has been confirmed in Delhi after testing eight samples from dead crows and ducks. All the samples tested positive for avian flu,” confirmed Delhi’s Animal Husbandry Department. A total of 104 samples was sent to Bhopal and Jalandhar labs for testing to ascertain whether avian influenza was the cause of the bird deaths.
On 10 January, the famous Sanjay Lake in the national capital was declared “alert zone” after 17 more ducks were found dead there. The Delhi Development Authority (DDA) has already closed the water body-cum-park.
Three other recreational parks in the national capital — Hauz Khas Park, Dwarka Sector 9 Park, Hastsal Park – have been closed amid the bird flu scare.
Besides Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, Kerala, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh, Haryana, Gujarat and Maharashtra have confirmed avian influenza.
Maharashtra confirmed the cases of bird flu earlier today, becoming the eighth state to do so. Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray has called a meeting this evening to review the bird flu situation.
India notified the first outbreak of avian influenza in 2006. The Centre recently said that bird flu viruses have been circulating worldwide for centuries with four known major outbreaks recorded in the last century.
Last week, the Ministry of Fisheries, Animal Husbandry and Dairying clarified that the disease is “zoonotic” but infection in humans has not been reported in India as yet, according to the government.
“There is no direct evidence that AI viruses can be transmitted to humans via the consumption of contaminated poultry products. Implementing management practices that incorporate biosecurity principles, personal hygiene, and cleaning and disinfection protocols, as well as cooking and processing standards, are effective means of controlling the spread of the AI viruses,” the ministry said in a statement.
In India, the disease spreads mainly by migratory birds coming into India during winter months i.e. from September – October to February – March. The ministry said that the secondary spread by human handling (through fomites) cannot be ruled out.