Bird-flu alert sounded in Bhitarkanika National Park

Kendrapara: Authorities have sounded a bird flu alert even as migratory birds continue to throng the Bhitarkanika national park here in Odisha’s Kendrapara district.

Forest department officials have been instructed to keep watch on birds, said Chief District Veterinary Officer (CDVO), Bhubananda Rout.

Leaflets and booklets were being distributed among the villagers living in close vicinity of the national park to create awareness, said Rout.

Blood samples were being taken from migratory birds by the district poultry diagnostic laboratory of the veterinary wing of the administration and samples would later be dispatched to Animal Disease Research laboratory at Bhubeneswar, the CDVO said.

“A joint field survey by wildlife personnel and state veterinary wing officials are currently underway within the bird-infested pockets of the national park. The team is yet to sight sickness symptoms in the birds,” said Divisional Forest Officer, Rajnagar Mangrove (wildlife) Division, Kedar Kumar Swain.

There has been influx of birds from cooler spheres of trans-Himalayan region, but they are quite safe and there was no cause for worry on possible flu outbreak, he said.

The vigil was higher on winter migrant species, which were found making annual visits to this wetland from central Asian countries and none of the winter species were so far found drooping or wore signs of sickness syndrome and no deaths have been reported yet, the officials said.

“Rapid response teams have been constituted in all nine blocks of the district. We have vaccinated 15,000 poultries including chicks in the district,” Sahoo said.

“Forest and veterinary officials are keeping a watch on migratory birds, particularly bar-headed geese, Brahmin Ducks, plovers, pintails and other migratory species as they are prone to carry H5NI strain of avian influenza,” he added.