NE states sound alert for bird flu, no case reported yet

Guwahati/Agartala/Kohima, Jan 8 (IANS) The northeast is on alert following the outbreak of bird flu (H5N8) in some Indian states though there is no report of the disease affecting chickens or any other birds in any of the eight states of the region, officials said on Friday.

Officials in Guwahati, Kohima, Agartala and Shillong said that though no bird flu cases have been found, an alert has been sounded as a precautionary measure. Most state governments including Assam have temporarily banned the import of poultry and poultry products from affected states and regions.

The Assam Animal Husbandry and Veterinary Department said that the ban was imposed in view of the outbreak of highly pathogenic and contagious disease, which has potential of causing huge loss in terms of mortality and trade of poultry, and “in the interest of preventing escalation of the disease to Assam and other northeastern states”.

The Tripura government has also asked both government and private farms to keep a close vigil to prevent any outside birds entering the complex and not import poultry and poultry products from disease-affected places.

“Following the death of some ducks at a private farm in Bishalgarh under Sepahijala district (in western Tripura), samples were tested at a government laboratory here. The reports of the samples found that the reason for the death of ducks is duck plague disease,” Animal Resources Development Department Director K. Sasikumar told IANS.

Nagaland’s Animal Husbandry and Veterinary Services Department official Budhi Lama has requested the public to report any unusual sickness and mortality of poultry birds, ducks and pet birds to the nearest veterinary health centre.

People have also been advised not to handle and consume such poultry birds and ducks which have died suddenly, though the department assured that it was safe to consume healthy poultry birds, ducks, turkeys, etc.

The statement also said that poultry owners have been requested not to mix outside (unknown source) poultry birds and ducks into their stock to prevent transmission of the disease.

It said that all Chief Vigilance Officers of the department have been asked to issue “red alert” notice to all subordinate officers, field officers, staff and village functionaries and seek to create a strong disease reporting system within their respective districts through education and communication campaign and familiarise the public about the risk.

The Meghalaya government is also not taking any chances.

In Shillong, after a review meeting, the Animal Husbandry and Veterinary Department issued an advisory to the Rapid Response Teams and Forest Department asking them to remain alert and report if any unusual death of birds were found anywhere in the state.

The department also told the public that if they consume poultry products, they should cook them properly and also follow the standard protocols on sanitisation.

Given the scare of bird flu, the demand for fish and mutton has suddenly increased in various northeastern states.

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