Poultry culling in Bhubaneswar amid bird flu fears

Samples of chicken that died at Odisha Agricultural University tested H5N1 positive on January 27

By Ashis Senapati
Published: Tuesday 28 January 2020
A Rapid Response Team in Bhubaneswar. Photo: Ashis Senapati

Officials at the Odisha University of Agriculture Technology (OUAT) in Bhubaneswar closed all shops selling chicken near the university in addition to culling birds on January 28, 2020, after some dead poultry tested positive for the H5N1 virus.

Last week, some poultry birds had died in OUAT’s poultry farms. Alarmed by this, the University’s officials sent some biological samples from the dead chickens to the National Institute of High Security Animal Diseases (NIHSAD) at Bhopal, Sushen Panda, head of the department of pathology at OUAT, said.

The samples were found to contain the H5N1 virus on January 27.

“After the confirmation, we directed all shops selling chicken within a one-kilometre radius of OUAT to close down. We also started the culling of all chickens in the one km radius. The administration will pay compensation to the chicken shop owners,” added Panda.

The one km area around the university has been declared as an ‘infected zone’ by the state government through a notification.

Officials have begun to screen poultry in and around Bhubaneswar. To carry out culling operations and surveillance measures, 12 Rapid Response Teams have been formed, with qualified veterinary doctors and para-veterinarians, said Manoranjan Mohanty the chief district veterinary officer of Khordha.  

The administration also began to collect wet faecal droppings and serum samples from migratory birds and poultry farms in the Bhitarkanika National Park and Chillika lake.

“The forest and veterinary officials distributed leaflets and booklets among the villagers near the Bhitarkanika National Park to create awareness about bird flu,” Bimal Prakash Dash, the divisional forest officer of the park, said.

The samples will be stored in leak-proof containers maintained by veterinary doctors. They will first be sent to the Animal Disease Research Institute at Cuttack. From there, they will be dispatched to NIHSAD, Dash added.

If the avian influenza strain (H5N1) mixes with a human influenza strain, thereby producing a new strain, it could spark a human influenza pandemic.

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