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Sunday, 10 January 2021

Staff crunch takes a toll on culling

Amit Bathla

Tribune News Service

Panchkula, January 9

Culling of birds could take place at only two poultry farms in the Barwala and Raipur Rani regions, which have reported the death of over 4.37 lakh chickens due to avian influenza, due to the issues of logistics and staff availability today.

Twelve rapid response teams (RRTs) of the state Animal Husbandry Department, supported by health, civic and police officials, began the culling operation in the afternoon at two hotspots of the flu outbreak — Siddharth Poultry Farm in Kheri village and Nature Poultry Farm at Ganauli village of Raipur Rani tehsil. A total of 3,700 birds were culled ndash; 1,000 at Siddharth Poultry Farm and 2,700 at Nature Poultry Farm — till this evening.

A dead crow at Indira Colony in Raipur Rani. Pradeep Tewari

The culling operations are expected to continue for two more days. Later, cleaning and disinfection of the culling area will be done. The authorities have ordered to cull 1.66 lakh birds to break the chain of infection. The culling operations were supposed to take place at five farms — Siddharth, Narender, Naveen and Sunil farms in village Kheri and Nature Poultry Farm. When asked about the slow pace of culling process, Deputy Commissioner Mukesh Kumar Ahuja said more manpower would be pressed into service tomorrow to speed up the culling operations. "We could only cull birds in hotspots today due to logistics and manpower issues. The culling at three other farms will also begin tomorrow and the whole drive will be completed in the next two days," he said.

The owners of several poultry units resisted to the operations, asking the authorities to confine the culling only to epicentres from where the positive samples were taken.

Shish Pal, owner of Narender Poultry Farm, said, "How could the authorities cull birds in my farm, if no sample has been taken from there. The culling of birds should be restricted only to the farms, which have reported positive bird flu cases."

The district authorities have suspended the sale of poultry at shops within 10 km area of the epicentres. Sale or transport of poultry or any other pet bird is also banned in the survillenace zones till further orders. Two of the three samples sent to a Bhopal-based laboratory on Friday had confirmed that lakhs of birds at poultry farms died due to avian influenza (H5N8). So far, the official toll in Barwala, which is Asia's second largest poultry belt, stands at 4.37 lakh.

Crows found dead

Scores of crows have been found dead in several parts of the district, including residential sectors, raising fears of bird flu. Deputy Commissioner Mukesh Kumar Ahuja said he would ask the Animal Husbandry Department to collect their samples to find if they died of bird flu.

Movement unrestricted

Even as the authorities claimed active containment in Barwala in view of bird flu, there was no restriction on the movement of people at poultry farms in the infected areas. Tractor-trailers transported chicken feed out of many farms, including Naveen Poultry Farm where 50,000 birds would be culled.

Number of hotspots expected to rise

The number of hotspots of the outbreak is expected to rise. The preliminary reports from a lab in Jalandhar have been sent to a Bhopal-based lab for confirmation on the presence of avian influenza.

Teams to be quarantined at four schools

Officials said the rapid response team members would be quarantined at four schools in Raipur Rani to ensure there was no virus transmission.

from The Tribune

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