Samples from poultry farms that J&K Animal Husbandry Department had sent for testing to an advanced laboratory outside J&K have been reported as negative for avian influenza.
Last week, samples from six poultry farms in Kashmir, including one Government owned, had been sent to National Institute of High Security Animal Diseases (NISHAD) Bhopal for an advanced test to ascertain the presence of H1N5 virus. Deputy Director Poultry, Kashmir Division, Dr Mushtaq Ahmed Shah said the samples have tested negative for the disease. He said no sample from Kashmir division has been found positive for avian influenza till date. “We have sent more samples to this high-tech laboratory and their reports are awaited,” he said.
However, he said, in wake of the spread of avian influenza in many states of India, the poultry division of J&K Animal and Sheep Husbandry department has “ramped up” testing paraphernalia at Vaccine Production and Research Center Zakura. Dr Shah said the department would now be carrying out entire testing at this lab and adequate measures had been put in to increase the number of tests as well as improve reliability of the results. “Monitoring is going on across Kashmir division and we get reports twice a day right from the block level,” he said. He further said that the department had set up helplines to report any “adverse events” in birds, domestic and wild.
The department maintained that there was no report of “suspicious mortality” in birds anywhere in Kashmir. “We had an inspection of a farm in Ganderbal where some birds had died and our experts found that the farm birds were suffering from Ranikhet disease,” he said. He said other samples from dead birds from Baramulla and Srinagar districts had also been tested and it had been found that the cause of death was not related to the virus. “In winters, especially in this snowfall, birds sometimes die due to dearth of food as well,” he said.
J&K has a high inflow of migratory birds in winters and the outbreak of influenza in other states has triggered fears of the birds carrying the disease to Kashmir. Dr Shah said the watch had been ramped up at wetlands with the help of the wildlife department. “In case they find a dead bird, we will test it for influenza.” J&K Government has banned entry of all poultry and poultry products to safeguard the farms from the viral infection here.