Via The Times of India: Bird flu-like virus killing Jharkhand crows.
RANCHI: The Centre has sent an alert to the Jharkhand government to remain cautious about a possible poultry infection, after a mysterious bird flu-like virus is believed to have killed between 500 and 1,000 crows in Jamshedpur, Bokaro and parts of Hazaribagh.
Though an official intimation from the Union animal husbandry department is still to reach the state, a study on the crow deaths conducted at the animal disease laboratory in Bhopal found a virus resembling that of bird flu.
However, the study allays fears about cattle, poultry and humans being infected because the virus was detected only in the brain of the dead crows.
Joint commissioner at the department of animal husbandry, A B Negi, said the virus was not found in the fecal matter or esophageal swabs of the dead crows. This means it cannot spread from one crow to another or any other bird unless the flesh of an infected crow is consumed by another scavenger.
"It is likely that a crow consuming a dead crow or any other scavenger may pick up the virus and get infected," he said.
A team of scientists from the Indian Veterinary Research Institute had visited Jamshedpur to collect samples of crow carcasses and made prima facie observations. IVRI joint director Rishendra Verma said there was no evidence to show that the poultry in Jamshedpur was infected.
While a sizable population among tribals in Jharkhand consume crow meat and are in danger of being infected, the department of animal husbandry under the state government has issued public awareness advertisements to handle dead crows carefully and bury them.
M K Sinha, the head of the zoology department, Ranchi University, has called for a detailed report on the deaths. "Mass deaths is something that needs to be handled with care so that the infection does not spread to other birds, cattle or humans," he said.
The symptoms shown by the infected crows include quivering, high body temperatures and convulsions.