Poultry samples sent for Bird Flu tests

Authorities today maintained that no reports of any unusual disease among poultry has been received so far and some samples from poultry farms of Kashmir have been sent for testing as a precautionary measure.

In the wake of concerns of bird flu, the Poultry division of Sheep and Animal Husbandry Department has taken samples of chicken being bred at farms in Baramulla, Budgam and Srinagar. Deputy Director Poultry, Kashmir Division, Dr Mushtaq Ahmed Shah said birds from private as well as Government owned farms have been sampled and the samples sent to Vaccine Production and Research Center Zakura. “The exercise is a precautionary one,” he said. The reports, he said, would be available within “2-3 days” and that the samples had been taken randomly.

He said the department has not received any information of disease or death among birds from any part of Kashmir. “We have instructed our district level officials to collect information from the breeding farms and people can also contact their district poultry divisions in case of any symptoms observed in birds,” he said. He further said that the Forest Department had been informed to collect any birds that they find dead in their jurisdiction for testing. “We have been keeping a vigil on Hokersar and other water bodies where migratory birds flock,” he said. “The department was doing a daily update on the situation.”

Meanwhile, the department has issued an advisory “To prevent ingress of bird flu into J&K”. “In wake of the spread of bird flu in the neighbouring states, the flowing advisory is issued to all stakeholders related to the poultry sector – owners, dealers, retailers and consumers”. The advisory directs the consumers not to panic and stop consumption. “The bird flu virus does not survive cooking,” reads the advisory. It has also called for immediate surveillance across districts and strict monitoring of farms as well as entry of birds into the UT.

Directorate of Extension SKUAST Kashmir has also issued an advisory simultaneously. “Any person experiencing fever or influenza like illness during the past 10 days must immediately report to health authorities for testing and appropriate treatment. In areas free of disease, poultry and poultry products can be consumed as usual with no fear of acquiring infection of H5N1 (bird flu) virus, provided these are properly handled and cooked,” reads the advisory.

Poultry farmers have been advised to look out for signs and symptoms of flu in their birds. These include, swelling in comb and wattles, purplish discolouration of the wattles, combs and shanks, diarrhoea, nasal discharge, coughing, sneezing, changes in coordination and egg changes. Handlers have been impressed to wear protective gear, including masks.