Mumbai, Thane report cases of bird flu, BMC issues guidelines

A day after Maharashtra became the latest in the list of states that reported bird flu cases, three crows found dead in Mumbai and 17 birds in Thane tested positive for Avian Influenza on Monday.

While samples of crows and herons from Mumbai, Ghodbunder in Thane and Dapoli in Ratnagiri have been found positive for the H5N1 strain, samples from Beed district have been found positive for the H5N8 strain.

Incidentally, the primary investigation conducted at the Pune-based Western Regional Disease Diagnostic Laboratory on 15 pond egrets and two parrots found dead in Thane and three crows found dead in Chembur in Mumbai had ruled out bird flu. These deaths were reported on January 7.

No new deaths of birds were reported in Mumbai on Monday.

“Crows and not poultry were found infected with bird flu in Mumbai and Thane. There are no poultry units in Mumbai, which is not an infected area. All the cases have been found in backyard poultries and not in commercial poultry units. It is safe to eat eggs and poultry meat, if they are cooked for 30 minutes at 70 degrees Celsius temperature,” said Anoop Kumar, Principal Secretary (Animal Husbandry).

Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray on Monday instructed the state administration to provide proper information to the people on bird flu to prevent the spread of rumours. In a meeting with district collectors, he said: “There is no reason to panic, as the disease has not yet been transmitted to humans.”

“Funds will be made available to the animal husbandry department for setting up bio safety level-3 laboratory for the early diagnosis of the disease,” he added.

Meanwhile, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) on Monday issued guidelines for handling of bird deaths in Mumbai. The civic body has set up control room and appealed to residents to inform it about any deaths of birds. Residents can call on 1916 if they notice any dead bird. The complaints will be handled by the respective ward offices. The BMC has also set up a rapid response team, including two veterinarians.

“The usual precautions for Covid-19, like wearing a mask, should suffice as a preventive mechanism in this case as well. We have not found any threat to public health yet,” Additional Municipal Commissioner Suresh Kakani said.

Mumbai’s Byculla zoo has stepped up sanitation and hygiene measures while all birds are being kept under increased vigil.

Following Union government guidelines, all 8,000 poultry birds within 1 km radius of the infected poultry farm at Murumba in Parbhani district will be culled on Tuesday.

In all, 398 poultry birds were found dead in the state on Monday — seven in Parbhani, 60 in Latur, 265 in Nagpur, 12 in Nanded, one in Satara and 50 in Ahmednagar. Three and two crows were found dead at Nanded and Gondia districts, respectively.

Their samples have been sent to the National Institute of High Security Animal Diseases in Bhopal for testing. In Yavatmal, eight peahens were found dead. Overall, 1,621 deaths of birds have been reported since January 8 in the state.

Commissioner (Animal Husbandry) Sachindra Pratap Singh said: “As many as 843 hens in Parbhani, 15 egrets and other birds and nine crows in Thane have tested positive for H5N1 strain. Eleven crows from Beed have tested positive for H5N8. We are yet to receive the remaining reports from the Bhopal laboratory.”