In the wake of a new strain of avian influenza being reported in India, six crows were found dead in Karnataka’s Dakshina Kannada district.
Samples have been sent in order to identify whether or not the birds died of the virus. The districts in Karnataka bordering Kerala, where bird flu cases were first reported in the south, are on alert. According to reports, the state animal husbandry department has issued a general alert to all district collectors.
Dakshina Kannada, Mysuru, Madikeri and Udupi districts are on high alert after birds in Alappuzha and Kottayam districts in the neighbouring Kerala were declared to have been affected by the H5N8 strain of bird flu. Officials have directed for the culling of over 69,000 domestic birds in Kerala districts, and according to reports, over 17,000 ducks have died.
Besides Karnataka, Tamil Nadu has constituted guidelines to contain the spread of the virus.
Meanwhile, Karnataka state health and medical education minister Dr K. Sudhakar said there is no need to panic regarding the bird flu, but precautions must be taken. Addressing the media, he said: “Six crows have died in Dakshina Kannada district and samples are sent for testing. Precautionary measures have been taken in border districts to prevent the bird flu. We should not spread unnecessary panic as lakhs of students are attending schools. Government has taken all safety measures.”
A three-member team of experts from the Union health ministry has visited the two districts in Kerala, to study the possible mutation of the virus and potential risk for humans. The team consists of experts from the National Centre for Disease Control and the National Institute of Virology.
The Union government has identified as many as 12 epicentres of the bird flu across the country. Besides Kerala, cases have been reported from Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat.
Though several reports claim the virus has made inroads into the country through the migratory birds, official confirmation from the concerned bodies is yet to come.