Chicken hunt to intensify, area widened
Source: The Sangai Express

Imphal, July 28: Notwithstanding collection and culling of over 45,000 fowls, ducks and eggs, and confiscation of poultry feeds in the three days of bird flu containment efforts spear-headed by the Veterinary and Animal Husbandry Department, the same operation is set for a more intense and extensive search akin to mass combing operation to search and destroy left out domestic birds susceptible to the disease.

Even though there is no report of human casualty or admittance to medical centres from infection of the viral disease, the V&AH Department is leaving no stone unturned to ensure that areas considered vulnerable to outbreak of avian influenza is completely sanitised.

Personnel of Health Services conduct house to house health surveillance to detect possible infection of bird flu

According to V&AH Director Dr Th Dorendra nearly 10,000 fowls and ducks and poultry feeds from within the five kilometre radius, with chingmeirong as the central point, could be collected and buried as per prescribed norms today bringing the total number of culled birds in the three day campaign to about 44,567.Compared to the first day culling of about 9473 birds on the first day marked with lack of coordination among the different Department teams specifically set up for the purpose, the second day yesterday recorded a healthy figure of 22,998 chickens and 2100 ducks.

The latter figure comprises of those domestic birds left untended at Langol and Thangmeiband areas yesterday as further burying activities resumed in the early hours today.

Expectations and tentative target set by the Department to increase the number in today's campaign, however, suffered a setback as a personnel of the Rapid Response Team (RRT) collapsed and died minutes before the culling process commenced in the morning.

Only 10,000 chickens and ducks, 5000 from each of the two capital districts could be culled till late afternoon today.

It is informed that among the destroyed poultry items in the last two days included 10,436 eggs and 2695 kilograms of poultry feeds.

Quantity of poultry feeds collected and buried/destroyed for today could not be accounted.

Coming to the Director's comment on the ongoing campaign, it is informed that the process tomorrow would be on a more wider scale both in area and intensity and appealed to clubs, meira paibis and NGOs to extend all possible cooperation to the Department personnel in containing the disease spread.

Conceding that culling of chickens from organised farms is more convenient compared to similar drive from the backyard farms of residential areas, Dr Dorendra reiterated his appeal to the general public to hand over chickens and ducks to RRTs for further culling and burying exercises.

dispelling apprehension among the citizens that handling of fowls might lead to avian influenza infection, the Director said there is no health hazard if one handles such domesticated birds by covering the hands in plastic sheets/bags.

However, after handling the birds one needs to thoroughly wash hands and clothes with detergents, he cautioned.

RRT personnel directly involved in the collection and culling of fowls need to wear protective gears owing to their nature of duty and vulnerability due to inevitability of constant contact with the chickens and ducks, the Director maintained.

Regarding reports of voluntary organisation members confiscating poultry items/products in Thoubal and Bishnupur districts suspected to have been smuggled out from Imphal areas, he conveyed that the confiscated items be handed over to Veterinary department personnel of the respective districts/zones for burial at specified areas.

He, nevertheless, said that all prescribed procedure would be difficult to comply with as officials and personnel of the Department in these districts have been summoned for duty in Imphal areas.

Numerous instances have been reported of the police station concerned sending messages to the Department to collect chickens and ducks deposited by the people at the police stations, he informed while assuring that the Department is committed to respond positively and promptly to the people's contribution in containing the disease.

Citing manpower shortage of V&AH Department to deal adequately with such disease outbreak, the Director fervently appealed to the common citizens for maximum effort and information to units of the V&AH Department in the districts and to other related departments to eliminate the disease before it assumes more dangerous proportion that could prove to be fatal to human beings.

Regarding detection of avian influenza in Chingmeirong area, he said chickens reared in the backyard farm of the place of the disease outbreak were procured from the Mantripukhri Central Poultry Farm even though the exact origin of the disease is yet to be traced.

He also dismissed rumours that the Chingmeirong family bought a chicken from Moreh side which is likely to be the cause of bird flu outbreak and insisted that the affected family never narrated such theory.

Meanwhile, reports were received that four truckloads of poultry feeds were detained briefly at Sekmai police station but had been released as the consignments were meant for farms located beyond the prohibited 10 kilometre radius of the avian flu outbreak centre.

On the otherhand, youths of local voluntary organisations of Kakching Wairi confiscated nearly 100 chickens and two ducks suspected to have been shifted/smuggled out of Imphal area this evening.

The seized items have been buried in the locality, sources added.