Punjab issues advisory for surveillance of poultry farms, wetlands amid bird flu scare

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Chandigarh, Jan 6 (PTI) Amid a bird flu scare, authorities in Punjab have alerted officials to keep tabs on any unusual deaths of migratory and poultry birds in the state, officials said on Wednesday.

They said no case of bird flu has been reported so far in Punjab.

Punjab Animal Husbandry Director Harbinder Singh Kahlon said an advisory has been issued for 'surveillance of commercial poultry farms and backyard poultry farms to find any unusual mortality in birds'.

The advisory has been sent to all 22 deputy directors of the department to ensure regular visit of field staff to commercial and backyard poultry farms in the state, he added.

In case any 'unusual mortality' in poultry birds is found, samples will be sent to the Northern Regional Disease Diagnostic Laboratory (RDDL), Jalandhar, to ascertain the cause, the officials said.

Similarly, the Department of Forests and Wildlife Preservation has also issued an advisory for maintaining extra vigil around lakes and wetlands in the state, they said.

A large number of migratory birds such as gulls, reeve etc arrive at Harike Pattan in Tarn Taran every year. Other wetlands in the state are in Gurdaspur, Rupnagar and Nangal.

Protocols have also been issued for collection of samples in case any migratory bird is found dead, the officials further said, adding that all possible precautions were being taken.

Notably, samples of dead migratory birds at Pong Dam Lake sanctuary in Kangra district of Himachal Pradesh have tested positive for the H5N8 strain of bird flu.

Four lakh poultry birds have died at 20 farms in Haryana's Panchkula district in the past several days.

A team of experts from the RDDL collected samples from the farms on Tuesday.

Panchkula's Barwala-Raipur Rani area is one of the largest poultry belts in the country with nearly 70-80 lakh birds in more than 100 farms.

According to the officials, the mortality rate in poultry birds was unusually high this winter.

However, there was no confirmed report of avian influenza as of now.

Poultry farmers' in Panchkula have attributed the high mortality rate in birds to extreme cold weather conditions or the disease Ranikhet. PTI CHS VSD IJT