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Minister looks into flu scenario

Bhubaneswar, Feb. 25: Fisheries and animal resources development minister Debi Prasad Mishra today took stock of the situation after a migratory bird from Chilika was identified to have been affected with the avian influenza virus H5N1.

But veterinary experts of the state government explained that the infection to a pintail on January 20 has not spread among other migratory birds in the lake and there was no reason to panic.

“This is an isolated case. Till now, not a single case has been reported among domestic birds,” Satyabrata Sahu told The Telegraph.

The last H5N1 positive case was detected on December 25, 2011. Since the day temperature has already crossed 30°C, the infection is unlikely to spread because heat kills the virus.

Mishra consulted experts to know the situation because a wrong message could send a negative signal to poultry farmers and the public.

On the other hand, department officials are collecting samples from all areas in the state that were affected by H5N1 virus last year.

The samples are being sent to High Security Animal Disease Laboratory in Bhopal.

Divisional forest officer of Chilika wildlife division Bimal P. Acharya said: “Already, 90 per cent of the winged guests have left. The samples were collected on January 20 from eight types of birds.”

“From a single bird, three types of samples — blood, cloacal and oral swabs are collected. Strangely in the positive pintail, while the oral sample was found positive, the blood and cloacal sample were reported negative.”

Acharya said not a single migratory bird has been found dead in Chilika lake.

However, he advised people staying inside Chilika or on its periphery to alert the authorities if they noticed any dead bird.

Yesterday, samples from two other types of birds — the shoveller and the black-tailed godwit — were sent to the Bhopal laboratory.

Last month, samples collected from dead crows in Khurda and Puri districts were also sent to the facility but the government veterinary officials, however, suspected that the deaths took place because of ranikhet disease.

The state government had to cull poultry birds last year because of the spread of the H5N1 virus and the task was undertaken by the Khurda district administration in January 2012 at Keranga village, which was the epicentre of the bird flu in Khurda district.

Poultry stock of the villages around Bahanada under Betnoti block in Mayurbhanj district was later culled.

The poultry stock of two major laboratories in Bhubaneswar —Central Poultry Development Organisation near Jayadev Vihar and Odisha University of Agriculture Technology — also had to be culled.