Kerala Considers Declaring Bird Flu as State Disaster, High Alert Sounded After Cases in 2 Districts
A culling team at Pallippad in Kuttanad region of Alappuzha district after bird flu cases were reported. (Photo: News18)
The animal husbandry department of Kerala has asked the state government to classify an outbreak of bird flu as a state-specific disaster after cases were reported from some parts of Kottayam and Alappuzha districts.
The department has sent a proposal to this effect to the revenue department, and the final decision will be taken by the state Cabinet, likely on Wednesday, News18 Malayalam reported.
The authorities have already issued a high alert in the state considering the potential of the virus to infect humans, official sources said, and had on Monday ordered culling of ducks, hens and other domestic birds in and around a one km radius of the affected areas. Tests conducted at the National Institute of High Security Animal Diseases in Bhopal have confirmed the bird flu outbreak, officials said.
The bird flu was reported from four panchayats--Nedumudi, Thakazhy, Pallippad and Karuvatta--in Kuttanad region of Alappuzha district and from a duck farm in Neendoor panchayat in Kottayam district. Around 1,700 ducks have died in the farm due to the virus infection.
Bird flu occurs naturally in wild waterfowl and can spread to domestic poultry, such as chickens, turkeys, ducks and geese. The disease is transmitted via contact with an infected bird's feces, or secretions from its nose, mouth or eye. The last major case of bird flu in Kerala was reported in 2016.
In the last one week, cases of bird flu have been reported from four other states: Himachal Pradesh, Rajasthan, Haryana and Madhya Pradesh. While lakhs of poultry were reported dead from Haryana, migratory birds died in Himachal Pradesh. In Madhya Pradesh, hundreds of crows were found dead in the last one week.
In Kerala, the authorities have decided to cull 40,000 domestic birds, including 34,000 in Kuttanad region alone, to check the spread of the H5N8 virus.
The Alappuzha District Collector has banned the use and trade of meat, eggs and waste of domestic birds, including ducks and chicken in Kuttanad and Karthikappalli Taluks. Government authorities said necessary steps have been taken to control the spread of the virus and there was no need for any concern.
The government said migratory birds visiting the 10 km radius of the affected areas would be monitored by the state forest department. Earlier, a high-level meeting chaired by State Animal Husbandry Minister K Raju assessed the situation and decided to open control rooms at Alappuzha and Kottayam districts.