Fear of bird flu outbreak grips Bihar

Birds have been dying in large numbers in the state from December 3

By Mohd Imran Khan
Published: Thursday 10 January 2019
Bird Flu
Credit: Flickr Credit: Flickr

The deaths of scores of birds of different species have led to a bird flu scare in Bihar. Patna, East Champaran, Munger, Muzaffarpur, Gaya, Nawada, Saharsa and Bhagalpur—from districts spread across the state reports of deaths of various birds, including poultry, crows, pigeons and peafowl have come in.

The first case of suspected bird flu was reported December 3, 2018 at Gorho village in Munger district’s Asarganj block and the next one at Mubarakchak village in Munger’s Jamalpur block. Bhopal-based National Institute of High Security Animal Diseases (NIHSAD) confirmed both to be cases of bird flu, caused by H5N1 virus.

Sanjay Gandhi Jaivik Udyan, the zoological garden in capital Patna, was affected next, with cases reported on December 16, 17 and 29.

The state government issued an alert in the last week of last year warning of a likely outbreak of the disease among humans.

Reports of dead birds have continued in the New Year from districts named above:

  • More than 2,500 poultry at a farm in Andhra Chowki village, barely 20 kilometres from Patna (first week of January)
  • Nearly a dozen crows at an orchard in Chandanpatti village of Sakra block, Muzaffarpur (Jan 6)
  • More than two dozen crows near Bata factory in Digha, Patna (Jan 7)
  • Dozens of poultry birds at a farm in Saharsa district (Jan 7,8)

Experts from Bengaluru-based National Institute of Veterinary Epidemicology Disease Informatics, Kolkata-based Regional Disease Diagnostic Laboratory and NIHSAD have visited Bihar to suggest measures to contain the disease, officials at the Chief Minister’s Office told Down To Earth.

Already, about 588 chickens have been culled at Gorho. Most of Mubarakchak’s poultry was also culled, said Munger district animal husbandry officer Shrawan Kumar. More than 3,000 chickens have been culled in Munger and Patna districts, officials said.  

The Patna zoo was shut for visitors on December 29, following the deaths of seven peafowl, but tests conducted on them turned out negative. The zoo will reopen after January 20.  

The state government has appealed for calm. Deputy Chief Minister Sushil Kr Modi claimed the situation was under control.

Demand for chicken, though, remains subdued, affecting trade. Health officials have asked people in Gaya and East Champaran to not consume chicken.

“Bird flu is mainly spread by migratory birds. The government should take strict action against those hunting migratory birds and traders as well as consumers of these,” said Arvind Mishra, coordinator in Bihar and Jharkhand for the Indian Birds Conservation Network. 

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