Bangalore is facing its biggest-ever bird flu scare. After the Centre, last Thursday, notified the outbreak of highly pathogenic avian influenza among turkeys at the Central Poultry Development Organization and Training Institute (CPDOTI) in Hesaraghatta on the city’s outskirts, at least 206 chicken and 17 ducks have died, sending officials of the animal husbandry and health departments and scientists at the institute into a tizzy.
Samples of the dead chicken and ducks have been sent to the High Security Animal Disease Laboratory in Bhopal to confirm whether these deaths were caused by avian influenza too. A total of 50 serum samples and 41 cloacal samples (samples of posterior openings of intestinal, reproductive or and urinary tracts) were submitted for laboratory investigations. The reports are awaited.
On October 25 the state government had announced that 3,481 turkeys died due to avian influenza and at least 784 turkeys were culled out of fear of the disease spreading to chickens, ducks or emus reared at the institute.
So far the disease was restricted only to turkeys, but with 86 chicken dying on Saturday and another 120 adding to the toll on Sunday (besides the 17 ducks on Saturday), the departments of health and animal husbandry have gone on a war-footing.
DNA visited the CPDOTI facilities at Byatha village in Hesaraghatta on Sunday morning and found that action has been initiated as per the Centre’s action plan 2012 for control, containment and eradication of avian influenza.
Residents living around CPDOTI have been given Oseltamivir (Tamiflu) tablets and asked to take one every day for at least a week to prevent them from being infected.
“We are taking all precautionary measures to prevent the spread of avian influenza to other areas,” said Aravind Jannu, principal secretary, department of animal husbandry. “Our main focus is to restrict the influenza to within CPDOTI’s turkey unit and gradually clear the area of the influenza.”
Sanitization activity in the turkey unit has started. Till Sunday, one shed in the turkey unit had been sanitized, while the remaining sheds will be sanitized in coming days with intensified disinfection procedures. From Sunday, 78 officers and staffers have been involved in this activity; teams of experts trained in restricting the spread of avian influenza have also been pressed into service.
“The scientists and doctors at CPDOTI are not being allowed to return home; they have been directed to attend to the emergency 24x7,” a scientist privy to the operations told DNA.
“They are even being asked to leave their mobile phones in the hostels where they have been put up to prevent information leaks about the operations.”