Kerla bird flu: Expert panel recommends restrictions on poultry farms in three districts

The spread of Avian influenza or bird flu has caused the death of 32,304 birds in Alappuzha, Kottayam and Pathanamthitta districts.
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Representative Image(File photo | PTI)

KOCHI: The expert committee formed by the Animal Husbandry department to study the frequent outbreaks of Avian Influenza reported that the source of the virus could be migratory birds.

The panel recommended a ban on the transportation of poultry from and to the areas where the disease has spread till March 2025.

The hatcheries in the infected areas should be shut down till March 2025, which marks the end of the migratory season. Poultry, meat, egg and bird droppings should not be transported from the infected areas to other parts of the state.

The farms in the infected areas will not be allowed to restock poultry during the ban period. Minister for Animal Husbandry, J Chinchurani said that the government will decide on implementing the recommendations after studying the practical issues.

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Kerala battles bird flu, over 33,000 birds culled so far

The spread of Avian influenza or bird flu has caused the death of 32,304 birds in Alappuzha, Kottayam and Pathanamthitta districts. As part of the steps to contain the spread of the disease, 1,14,789 domesticated birds were culled in these districts.

Besides, 16,115 eggs and 17,092 kg of feed were destroyed. Around 12,420 birds in Chengannur Central hatchery were culled after the birds were found to be infected.

The infection was first reported in April 2024 and the expert committee observed that the virus would have spread to other areas through the sale and transportation of infected birds. The carcass, feed and droppings of the birds that died due to the infection in the initial phase were not properly destroyed, which would have led to the spread of the disease to wild birds.

The supervisors of broiler integration farms in Thannermukkom and Cherthala visited the farms daily for the distribution of medicine and vaccination of birds.

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Bird flu concern spreads as crows, cranes found dead in Kerala's Alappuzha district

This could have led to the spread of the disease to farms. The authorities at the integrated farms failed to inform the veterinary hospitals about the spread of the disease at the appropriate time which led to the spread of the disease to more areas.

Though the farms had been bringing one-day-old foul from hatcheries outside the state, these birds were not infected. The disease was first reported among the birds grown in the state itself.

The expert committee felt that the virus could have spread to ducks reared in the paddy fields of Kuttanad from wild birds or migratory birds. The report stressed the need for genetic analysis of the virus strains causing the disease in Kerala to understand the source and periodical outbreaks in the state.

The expert committee recommended collecting samples from all poultries in the state every three months and testing them. In the Kuttanad area samples should be collected every month till March 2025.

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Bird flu concern spreads as crows, cranes found dead in Kerala's Alappuzha district

The carcasses of birds should be destroyed properly to avoid the spread of infection to wild birds. The farm owners should immediately report bird deaths due to infection. The government should make registration of private farms at veterinary hospitals mandatory.

Steps should be taken to monitor the arrival of migratory birds in the Kuttanad area.

The panel recommended monitoring the seasonal movement of migratory and wild birds and collecting bird samples with the help of the Bombay Natural History Society, NGOs and with the permission of the forest department.

The number of ducks in the infected areas should be brought down and no farm should be allowed to rear more than 5,000 ducks. Steps should be taken to conduct biosecurity auditing in all farms every four months, said the report.

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