(Eds: Adding Maha minister's quotes on culling of birds) Mumbai, Jan 11 (PTI) Avian influenza has been confirmed as the cause of the death of different birds in Parbhani, Mumbai, Thane, Beed and Dapoli in Maharashtra, as per test reports of a Bhopal-based laboratory, a senior state government official said on Monday.
State Animal Husbandry Minister Sunil Kedar told reporters in Nagpur that around 70,000 to 80,000 birds are expected to be culled in a village near Parbhani, where hundreds of hens had died at a poultry farm.
State animal husbandry department secretary Anoop Kumar told PTI that they would be increasing bio-safety measures in poultry farms so that there is no interface with wild birds.
In the morning, Parbhani Collector Deepak Muglikar said that bird flu has been confirmed as the cause of the death of around 900 hens at a poultry farm in Murumba village and the district administration has decided to cull nearly 8,000 birds in the village.
When asked about the number of birds likely to be culled in Parbhani, Kedar said, 'I don't known the exact number, but approximately 70,000 to 80,000 birds will be needed to be culled'.
'Results of the samples of dead birds from the Bhopal lab tested positive for bird flu on Sunday evening. Now, We have only one option and that is to start culling the birds there and ensure sanitisation so that the infection does not spread from there,' he said.
Kumar said the animal husbandry department has already started implementing its action plan and the culling of birds will begin from Tuesday.
According to the Bhopal-based ICAR-National Institute of High Security Animal Diseases (NIHSAD), two crows from Mumbai died due to bird flu.
Three pond egrets and a parrot from Thane were infected by the H5N1 avian influenza virus, the institute's test report said.
Besides, a chicken and two herons from Parbhani too died of H5N1 avian influenza virus, while crows from Beed and Dapoli (in Ratnagiri district) were infected by H5N8 avian influenza virus, as per the report.
'Our action plan implementation work has begun. We will be holding a review meeting with the chief minister (Uddhav Thackeray) in the evening,' Kumar said.
'We will get our strategies approved by the CM and start culling from tomorrow, especially in Parbhani where poultry birds have been found to be infected,' he said.
The government machinery, including district collectors and forest department, is on alert, he said.
Meanwhile, Kumar sought to allay concerns of people over consumption of poultry products, saying the transmission of the bird flu infection to humans is 'rarest of rare'.
He said the state government is running a campaign to make people aware that it is safe to consume eggs and poultry products.
'It is absolutely safe to consume eggs and chicken as the virus cannot withstand cooking temperatures, and people need not worry as infection to humans due to bird flu is rarest of rare.
'And our cooking temperature takes care of any kind of virus, not only flu virus...it is absolutely safe to eat eggs and chicken,' he said.
Talking to reporters in Jalna, state Health Minister Rajesh Tope said his department is on alert in view of the bird flu cases found in the state.
Earlier, Parbhani Collector Muglikar said they have created a prohibitory zone in 10 km radius of the area where the birds died.
'No birds will be transported from there to any other place. Our medical team is stationed there and it is examining all people of the village,' he said.
There is no need to be panic and the district administration is taking all precautions, he added.
Meanwhile, the Thane Municipal Corporation has set up a control room to monitor the situation and appealed to people to promptly report any cases of bird deaths in the city.
It will also work to pro-actively remove fear from the minds of citizens and give them appropriate information from time-to-time, a release from the civic body said.
Bird flu cases have so far been confirmed in Maharashtra, Kerala, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh, Haryana, Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh and Delhi. PTI ENM AW COR CLS GK NSK NSK