CHANDIGARH: The Sukhna Lake here was cordoned off early on Thursday, after a goose, which had recently died under mysterious circumstances, tested positive for the much-feared bird flu or avian influenza. The presence of the H5N1 virus was confirmed in a sample from one dead duck by the Bhopal-based National Institute of High Security Animal Diseases (NIHSAD) on Wednesday.
Both Haryana and Punjab Raj Bhawan, besides residences of top bureaucrats, are located in the vicinity of the lake. More than 35 geese had died at the lake recently under mysterious circumstances. The lake has nearly 250 ducks and geese, which are a star attraction for visitors. The Chandigarh Administration on Thursday culled 80 geese at the lake, to prevent any outbreak of bird flu in the city. The team which culled off the ducks were wearing masks and special uniforms.
“We took the decision to cull the geese, numbering around 80,” said Director of Animal Husbandry Department Prince Dhawan.
The administration got alert after it was confirmed that one of the ducks had perished due to H5N1.
It is in touch with the Central Government and are fully prepared to handle any contingency, even as the public was requested not to panic and co-operate with the administration at this stage.
Entry for the public was closed from the entrance of the water body to its regulator end as a precautionary measure, with boating and other activities for tourists stopped.
The island in the lake, where the ducks are residing, has been fenced and movement of the birds restricted. The road in front of the lake has been closed and Chandigarh Police personnel, wearing masks, have been deployed. The lake club and the CITCO-run restaurant at the lake has also been closed.
While 15 ducks at the Chandigarh Golf Club, adjacent to the lake, has been quarantined, these are at the sixth hole of the club.
Scores of morning walkers who throng to the lake every day and other visitors were kept away from the lake. The lake would remain out of bounds for all visitors for at least two to three days.