BHUBANESWAR: The focal point of bird flu has now shifted to Betanati in Mayurbhanj. With culling coming to an end at Keranga in Khurda district, where it all started a week ago, the Government is now waiting for an advisory from the Centre to take its next course of action in the northern Odisha district.
The Fisheries and Animal Resources Development (FARD) department, which received the confirmation reports from the High Security Animal Diseases Laboratory (HSADL), Bhopal, has asked the Director, Veterinary Services, Benudhar Das, to rush to Mayurbhanj to take stock of the situation.
Since Betanati block is contiguous to Jharkhand where the avian influenza has been reported, the virus is believed to have spread from across the border. The area, however, does not have any organised poultry farms and most birds are part of the backyard poultry. Official sources said poultry bird population could be in the range of 4,000.
As the locals celebrate Makar Sankranti by feasting on meat, FARD sources apprehend that some of the birds may already have been consumed. Since the Centre has asked for additional information on the poultry mortality and other pattern, the advisory is expected in the next couple of days. Meanwhile, death of a few chickens in Jadupur village of Bhubaneswar sparked off panic in the area. The bird flu surveillance team even picked up a live bird for collecting swab sample. The Animal Diseases Research Institute (ADRI) will send a team to Jadupur on Monday for collection of fresh samples. “There is no unusual mortality in the area and there is no reason to panic,” a FARD department official said.
The Government will begin disbursement of compensation to villagers in Keranga from Monday. On Sunday, at least 711 birds were culled taking the total number to 31,886. There is unlikely that any more bird is available in the area. The FARD department has estimated the total compensation amount at Rs 21,27,221.
While the bird flu panic has severely affected the poultry sector and consumption of chicken and eggs has dropped drastically, the Government is hopeful that the spread of virus will slow down as the weather has shown improvement over the last couple of days. “The H5N1 virus needs a temperature of 20 degrees C to 30 degrees C to multiply and spread. The showers, followed by cold wave, aggravated the situation. Now that sunny and dry conditions have prevailed, things may return to normal,” said an officer.