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Less Infectious Variant of Bird Flu Detected in Rajasthan's Kota, Baran Districts

Image for representation

Image for representation

The state on Tuesday reported deaths of 200 more birds, officials said. They said the number of birds which died in Rajasthan in the recent days reached 625 on Tuesday morning, amid an outbreak of bird flu.

After bird flu was confirmed in samples of carcasses sent from Jhalawar, avian influenza subtype H5N8, which experts said is less infectious than H5N1 virus, has been detected in Rajasthan's Kota and Baran districts. The state on Tuesday reported deaths of 200 more birds, officials said. They said the number of birds which died in Rajasthan in the recent days reached 625 on Tuesday morning, amid an outbreak of bird flu. The fatalities were reported in 16 of the 33 districts of Rajasthan.

Also, 86 samples from 11 districts have been sent for testing to detect bird flu, which is a highly infectious and severe respiratory disease in birds caused by the H5N1 influenza virus, which can occasionally infect humans as well. Agriculture and Animal Husbandry Department Minister Lal Chand Kataria held a review meeting on Tuesday to take stock of the situation.

He said avian influenza has been found in three districts of Rajasthan and the virus is spreading in neighbouring states as well, which is a matter of concern. "Chicken and eggs have not been affected due to the virus but all precautions are being taken looking at the large-scale deaths of crows. Samples sent from Jodhpur have tested negative. But, positive cases of avian influenza have been found in Jhalawar, Kota and Baran districts," Kataria said.

He said there will be no ban on sale of eggs as no impact of bird flu has been found in poultry so far. Poultry farm owners have been alerted, the minister said. Kataria said the state government wants to set up a lab so that delay in testing of samples can be avoided.

Animal Husbandry Department Principal Secretary Kunji Lal Meena said the only accredited lab to conduct test of such diseases is in Bhopal. The Centre has agreed in principle to encourage regional labs. Department secretary Arushi Malik said the virus found in Kota and Baran is avian influenza subtype H5N8, which is less infectious than H5N1. But precautions need to be taken, Malik said.

Himachal Pradesh on Monday became the fourth state to report cases of bird flu after Rajasthan, Kerala and Madhya Pradesh, with officials confirming that migratory birds found dead at Pong Dam Lake in Kangra district have tested positive for the dreaded avian influenza. In Rajasthan, deaths of more than 170 birds were reported from some districts on Monday.


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