Sunday, 15 January 2012

Bird flu hits Thimphu

hangedaphu (Kalabazar) A bird flu outbreak in Thimphu was confirmed yesterday afternoon after the deaths of 38 chickens in the past week at the camp in Changedaphu (Kalabazar).
Another 11 were found sick. These birds are from five houses that had 49 birds in all. The National Centre for Animal Health in Serbithang confirmed the outbreak.
By last evening, a team of officials from the Bhutan Agriculture and Food Regulatory Authority (BAFRA), the livestock department, health, police and city officials had dug a two-feet deep pit to dispose the culled birds.
An emergency meeting of the National Incident Command Centre (NICC) for bird flu was held yesterday following the deaths.
The culling began last night after the team reached Thimphu from Tshimasham. “Since the place is within the city it could pose a high risk for human health although this is the first case in the city,” officials said.
Livestock officials said the birds had started dying since January 8, but were informed by the residents only on January 12, after the death of two birds, which tested positive for bird flu.
Dairy division chief with the livestock department and the spokesperson for bird flu, Dr Tashi Dorji, said the residents had already buried nine dead birds.
The disease, according to Dr Tashi Dorji, is similar to a disaster, with no treatment besides culling. “The H5N1 virus infects humans as well, and people should avoid eating eggs and chicken from the flu-affected areas,” he said.
While the investigation to find the source of infection is on, officials suspect the flu could have spread from Tshimasham, where the flu outbreak was first reported. “Tshimasham could be a possible source, and it could also be wild birds, such as pigeons,” Dr Tashi Dorji said.
The team will start spraying disinfectant today at the junction of Kuenselphodrang and Kalabazar.  Areas around Thimphu such as Samarzingkha, Police camp, RICB, Hospital area, Upper Changzamtog are considered high risk areas.
There are 17,144 birds alone under Thimphu Dzongkhag excluding those in the city area as per the poultry population report, 2011.
Meanwhile, just three days after the six-month ban on the import of poultry and poultry products from India was lifted, the ban is re-imposed following an outbreak of bird flu at Orissa, India. All BAFRA permits related to poultry and poultry products that have been granted to date will be considered cancelled.
By Tashi Yangzom

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