Mortality up, but Govt says no Avian Flu in poultry

File photo/Wikimedia

While the reported cases of deaths in all categories of birds are on a rise, J&K government Friday said that the poultry sector in Kashmir was “free from avian influenza”.

It said that better testing had been employed to test for the viral infection in poultry.

Talking to Greater Kashmir, Joint Director Poultry (Animal and Sheep Husbandry Department), Dr Mushtaq Ahmed Shah said, “Mass culling of domestic birds has been ordered in a part of Bandipora district.

He said the measure was precautionary and taken in view of the confirmed avian influenza among geese.

Dr Shah said the sample was “an old one” and its test returned on Thursday.

He said that culling had been ordered as a containment measure within a radius of 1 km around the spot where from mortality was reported.

In addition to geese, Dr Shah said bird flu was also confirmed among the poultry in Sopore. “Samples taken from a retailer in Sopore were also found positive for avian flu,” he said.

However, the poultry division of J&K’s Animal and Sheep Husbandry department said that there was no avian flu spread in Kashmir division.

Dr Shah said 670 samples had been tested in Kashmir for viral infection of which only 12 had been confirmed to be positive.

He said the positive cases had been exclusively among wild birds and crows.

“We have sent the samples taken from dead pigeons in Srinagar for testing and the reports are awaited,” Dr Shah said.

On Thursday, there were reports of “unusual deaths” among pigeon in Chattabal area of Srinagar.

A senior official in the Animal Husbandry department of Kashmir said that there was an increase in the reports of deaths in backyard poultry.

“We have been receiving a number of calls about the entire brood of chicken deaths,” he said. “Such reports had been received from across various districts including Srinagar.”

However, the official expressed ignorance about the status of tests in such farms.

“Hopefully, there is no cover-up of bird flu cases in small and large farms by the people as well as the authorities as it can prove disastrous for Kashmir,” he said.

However, Dr Shah reiterated that not every death in birds was caused by avian influenza.

“There are many other kinds of diseases among the poultry and non-domestic birds and those can result in their deaths,” he said.

Dr Shah said that the mortality of avian influenza was 80 percent.

“We have taken samples from many homes that reported deaths among hens and other birds that had been reared but till date none has been found to be infected with avian flu,” he said.

The department said ELISA testing for bird flu had been instituted at the laboratory at Zakura and it was possible to get reports within two days now.

“We have been able to increase vigilance on the disease with this development,” Dr Shah said.