BHUBANESWAR: The Government on Tuesday sent 10 more samples from Betanati in Mayurbhanj to the High Security Animal Diseases Laboratory (HSADL), Bhopal, for testing even as the region has been declared a restricted zone awaiting Central advisory for culling. A high alert has been issued by the Fisheries and Animal Resources Department (FARD) following confirmation of H5N1 virus in a poultry bird on Monday. With 41 more bird deaths, including that of chicken, ducks along with crows, reported on Tuesday, the Department rushed the samples to the HSADL to be absolutely sure that the toll is due to avian influenza.
Betanati poses a unique problem as the poultry population in the region is primarily domesticated indigenous species and not broiler farm birds. The bird population too is scattered. There are no farms to rear poultry birds in the region.
“The indigenous species of poultry birds are known to have a higher degree of resistance to the flu virus and not affected easily. Besides, they being traditionally reared in the backyards by the predominantly tribal population as a means of sustenance, going ahead with immediate culling would impact the people economically. Therefore, we have sent more samples to be absolutely sure that they have died of bird flu,” Director, Animal Husbandry and Veterinary Services (AH & VS), Benudhar Das said.
The Betanati and the surrounding regions also do not boast of a substantial poultry population. The bird population at the epicentre and within the three-km radius would not be more than 5,000.
Surveillance and control measures, however, have been intensified by the Department in coordination with the district administration. About 16 veterinary surgeons, 30 livestock inspectors along with administration officials, Forest guards and police have been deployed for round-the-clock vigil.
“People are being sensitised against consumption of the meat of the dead birds. The dead birds are being disposed of in a proper manner and the places sanitised,” Das said.
Meanwhile, the handling of the Keranga situation by the AH & VS wing of FARD has been lauded by the Centre.
The Animal Husbandry Department under the Union Agriculture Ministry has sought a project report on the Keranga activities and intervention which would be a tool for replication in other parts of the country when need arises.