Tuesday, Dec 06, 2022

Bird flu scare: Helpline founder alleges ‘lapses’ by Gujarat govt dept

Despite this, more guinea fowls were sent to this bird shelter house at Hathijan by the department.

Bird flu, latest Flu news, Bird Flu in Odisha, India news, Latest news, H5N1 strain, avian influenza virus, India news, Latest news, national news As per the animal husbandry department records, the department was informed about seven suspicious bird deaths at Asha Foundation on December 30. (Representational image)

Amid the scare of the deadly avian influenza, with the site of Asha Foundation at Hathijan as its epicentre, the founder of the animal helpline, Harmesh Bhatt, Thursday questioned the lapses on the part of the animal husbandry department, claiming that the animal husbandry department was informed about the suspicious guinea fowl and turkey deaths well in time. Despite this, more guinea fowls were sent to this bird shelter house at Hathijan by the department.

A chronology of events obtained from the state animal husbandry department and the animal helpline shows that despite the outbreak and being informed timely about the suspicious bird deaths at the epicentre (Asha Foundation at Hathijan), the helpline was asked to take another 700 birds on the same day when the interim test reports from the National Institute of High Security Animal Disease (NIHSAD), Bhopal, confirmed bird flu.

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As per the animal husbandry department records, the department was informed about seven suspicious bird deaths at Asha Foundation on December 30. “The department’s deputy director (Foot and Mouth Disease) Amit Kanani based in Ahmedabad visited the site on December 30 where three birds died during his visit itself. He conducted some preliminary tests, collected samples and bird carcasses,” revealed a senior department official.

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“Now, ahead of the Vibrant Gujarat Summit, when the state machinery has been put to action. This could have been easily avoided if timely action was taken by the concerned authorities of the animal husbandry department. I have personally informed the department that I brought 200 birds from Mumbai’s Crawford market on December 28,” said Bhatt. He added, “Again, on December 30, the department was informed about the seven deaths among the 200 guinea fowls I brought from Mumbai. As per the preliminary tests conducted on the spot, the department got to know that H5N1 was the cause of deaths. Right on that day, the visiting official, Amit Kanani, informed me that I had to surrender all these birds to the department.”

On December 31, the collected samples were sent to NIHSAD, Bhopal. Confirming this, animal husbandry department secretary Dr Dr S Murali Krishna said, “The Asha Foundation informed about the deaths on December 30 which were sent to NIHSAD, Bhopal, on December 31 and the interim report was received after two days on January 2.”

In between, on January 2 evening, over 1,050 guinea fowls were reported to be unloaded on the Sardar Patel Ring Road near Vastral on the outskirts of Ahmedabad city by a trucker travelling from Uttar Pradesh. On the same day (January 2), the Bhopal interim reports confirmed avian influenza in the samples collected from Hathijan. Despite this, the foundation was asked to take another 700 guinea fowls from Vastral by the animal husbandry department. The remaining 350 were sent to another animal helpline in Ahmedabad’s Memnagar area.

“The same animal husbandry department officials, who were informed about suspicious deaths and had collected the samples, were present at the site in Vastral on January 2, who asked to take these birds at my shelter. Despite expressing inhibitions due to the suspicious deaths at the centre and also when the department knew about the entire case, there was no point in sending another 700 guinea fowls to the centre. Sending these meant a definite spread of the virus, leading to culling,” said Bhatt.


Meanwhile, a Ministry of Health and Family Welfare team is scheduled to visit Ahmedabad on Friday. Commissioner health J P Gupta said, “To take a stock of the situation, the team will arrive Friday. Though the chances of the team visiting the site is very less. At this point of time, their schedule has not been finalised. However, the situation is under control as there are no instances of bird flu deaths at any poultry centre across the state from where there are chances of spreading bird flu to humans. But we are continuously monitoring the situation.”

Disinfection and surveillance by AMC

The Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation (AMC) has disinfected Hathijan village and the area around Asha Foundation with nearly 2,000 kilogram of disinfectant. Two mobile vans have been deployed at the site for medical emergencies. While 5 chicken and poultry items have been sealed near the site, the sale of chicken and eggs at other centres have been stopped and are under surveillance. Asha Foundation staff members are in direct contact with birds and their family members are being administered tamiflu. 116 teams are conducting surveillance operations of birds in areas near Hathijan village

First published on: 06-01-2017 at 04:03:26 am
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