Home Andhra Pradesh Migratory birds could be source of avian flu: expert panel

Migratory birds could be source of avian flu: expert panel

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Migratory birds could be source of avian flu: expert panel

Migratory birds could be the source of avian flu outbreaks that have been reported in the State, an expert panel constituted by the Animal Husbandry Department has found.

The study, led by experts of the department and Kerala Veterinary and Animal Sciences University (KVASU), also suggested the disease could have been exacerbated by the movement and sale of infected birds to various locations. Moreover, improper disposal of birds dying of the disease and other materials like bird feed and litter has also been identified as a contributing factor to the rapid spread of the virus among domestic poultry.

The report also underscores the role of infected crows in disseminating the disease within the State, observing that there have been no indications of external sources of infection. Nonetheless, it called for stricter controls on the movement and screening of poultry brought in from other States. The report also suggests that the virus might have been transmitted from forest-dwelling birds to domestic poultry.

In light of such findings, the expert panel has proposed several stringent measures to contain and manage the outbreak effectively. These include enforcing the National Act Plan for Prevention, Control and Containment of Avian Influenza (2021), prohibiting the sale and movement of birds in surveillance zones of all affected districts until March 2025, and the closure of hatcheries in these zones during the period.

The report also advocates monthly sampling and testing of samples in the Kuttanad region until March 2025, mandatory registration of private poultry and duck farms with government veterinary hospitals, and rigorous biosecurity audits of private poultry farms every four months. It also recommends limiting the number of ducks in breeding facilities and regulating the number based on the land area available.

The long-term strategy proposed by the team emphasises the need for genetic studies of the virus, strict licensing of poultry and duck farms through local bodies, and the establishment of authorised abattoirs to process chicken and duck meat.

Animal Husbandry Minister J. Chinchu Rani has said steps will be adopted to implement the recommendations after considering their feasibility.

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