KOTTAYAM: With the Bhopal-based National Institute of High Security Animal Diseases (NIHSAD) now confirming the existence of bird flu among the ducks in Arppookkara, Kumarakom and Aymanam grama panchayats, District Collector C A Latha will on Monday chair an urgent meeting of the officials concerned to discuss the further course of action.
According to Animal Husbandry Department officials here, culling of the infected birds will start at the earliest in the wake of the NIHSAD findings. However, they sought to ally the public fears over the H5N8 virus that causes Avian flu, saying it could not be passed onto human beings.
“The H5N8 virus has been confirmed in the tests conducted at the high-security lab in Bhopal. However, it won’t be transmitted to human beings,” said Dr Hariharan, district Animal Husbandry Officer, adding, the culling of birds was likely to commence on Tuesday on the basis of the decisions taken at Monday’s meeting.
Meanwhile, more ducks succumbed to the deadly virus on Sunday, bringing the toll to 3,500 so far.
“Around 2,000 ducks fell prey to the outbreak at Arppookkara and around 1,500 birds perished at Aymanam. However, since the affected flocks are scattered in various paddy fields, we are unable to establish the exact number of deaths,” said an official.
It has emerged that Chellappan of Pulikkasseri house had lost 1,200 ducks so far to the outbreak, with farmers at Kelakkari, Choorathara and Thollayiram paddy fields as well as Cheepungal, Mukka and Maniyaparamb areas losing their flock to the deadly virus.
Meanwhile, the Animal Husbandry Department official said the magnitude of the disease was huge.
“It is learnt that 30,000 out of total 45,000 ducks in Arppokkara panchayat are in the infected zone and an equal number in Aymanam panchayat,” he said.
Already, the disease has spread to Kumarakom and is likely to extend its tentacles to Vechur as well. Meanwhile, as many as 30 squads are ready to take up the culling operations at the earliest. They will start the operations once the District Collector gives the go-ahead.