Chicken deaths spark bird flu scare in Odisha

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Kendrapara (Odisha), Aug 17 (PTI) En-masse death of over a thousand chickens at a poultry farm in a seaside village here triggered panic with the locals suspecting the death to be an outbreak of bird flu.

However, veterinary experts who inspected the poultry farm in Kharinasi village allayed fears of flu and said the chickens died of coccidiosis disease not bird flu.

“Around 1,100 birds including chicks died during the past one week. After the deaths were reported to us by the farm owner Bankim Majhi, we rushed to the poultry farm. After sounding an alert, the bodies of chickens were subjected to laboratory test at the district veterinary college here,” Chief District Veterinary Officer (CDVO), Chaitanya Charan Sethy said.

“Some of the samples were sent for test to the Animal Disease Research Institute near Bhubaneswar,” he said.

The untimely death of chickens in the farm had fuelled fears of bird flu among the locals. But preliminary tests conducted on the birds found dead have ruled out bird flu, Sethy said.

Veterinarians, who conducted the initial examinations and post-mortem of the birds, said that the signs were consistent with coccidiosis disease. It is a parasitic disease of the intestinal tract of animals caused by coccidian protozoa. The disease spreads from one animal to another by contact with the infected tissue.

However, the disease is not contagious and is not air-borne, he added.

In no other poultry farm large-scale death of chickens has been reported. However as a precautionary measure, the department has sounded an alert and asked people not to touch the chickens dropping dead. We have requested the farm owners to inform the administration when they spot dead chickens, the official said.

“We have constituted rapid response teams comprising livestock inspectors, village ‘gomitras’ and veterinary officers in the district and directed them to detect sick chickens. All poultry will be vaccinated shortly to prevent the spread of the animal disease,” Sethi said.

There were reports of distress sale of broiler chickens by poultry farm owners. Our officials are visiting the village, sensitising the poultry farm owners not to get panicked and resort to distress sale. We are conducting an awareness campaign for farmers regarding the need for vaccinations, the official added.

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