Over 1,700 migratory birds, most of them bar-headed geese, have been found dead under mysterious circumstances in Himachal Pradesh’s famous Pong Dam sanctuary. Officials said the dead birds have tested positive for bird flu, following which the authority suspended tourism in the area. Officials have banned the sale and purchase of poultry and poultry products in some parts of the district as a precautionary measure against the possibility of a bird flu outbreak.
With this, Himachal Pradesh became the fourth state to report cases of the avian influenza in recent days. Rajasthan, Gujarat and Kerala have detected avian influenza cases in the last few days.
Kangra’s District Magistrate Rakesh Kumar Prajapati restricted the movements around one-kilometre radius of the reservoir till further notice. A surveillance zone has also been set up around nine kilometres radius from the water body to monitor the incident. The officials have also prohibited slaughter, sale, purchase and export of any poultry, birds, fish of any breed and their related products, including eggs, meat, chicken, etc, in the districts.
Exercising his powers under Sections 34 of the Disaster Management Act, 2005, the official said shops selling these products would also remain closed in these four subdivisions. Bird flu is a highly infectious and severe respiratory disease in birds caused by the H5N1 influenza virus, which can occasionally infect humans as well.
On Monday, the Kerala government had confirmed that cases of the H5N8 strain of avian influenza virus in Alappuzha and Kottayam where around 12,000 ducks have died in the last few days. Moreover, hundreds of crows have been found dead in Rajasthan while the report of 53 dead birds in Gujarat comes in the backdrop of a confirmed bird flu outbreak.