A bird flu alert has been sounded in Rajasthan after the presence of the dreaded virus was confirmed in dead crows in Jhalawar and more avian deaths were reported in other districts, including Jaipur.

On Sunday, seven crows were found dead at Jaipur’s iconic Jal Mahal, taking the toll to 252 in the state.

A high alert has been sounded across the desert state after Avian Influenza was confirmed in the samples of around 100 crows that were found dead in Jhalawar. The same samples have been sent to Bhopal for further testing.

What is bird flu?

Bird flu, also called avian influenza is a viral disease that is contagious and can spread from one bird to other birds and animals. It can also be transmitted to humans.

H5N1 is the most common form of bird flu. It’s deadly to birds and can easily affect humans and other animals that come in contact with a carrier. According to the World Health Organization, H5N1 was first discovered in humans in 1997 and has killed nearly 60% of those infected.

H5N1 occurs naturally in wild waterfowl, but it can spread easily to domestic poultry. The disease is transmitted to humans through contact with infected bird feces, nasal secretions, or secretions from the mouth or eyes.

Rajasthan on high alert

Jhalawar district administration has declared a zero mobility zone within one kilometre of the area to ensure the infection does not spread to other birds.

All national parks and wildlife sanctuaries and other forest areas have been asked to take special precautions after the National Institute of High-Security Animal Diseases confirmed bird flu in the samples tested so far.

Amid the bird flu concerns in the State, Rajasthan Animal Husbandry Minister Lalchand Kataria on Sunday said an emergency meeting of concerned officials has been called.

“It’s a serious matter, an emergency meeting of concerned officials has been called. We are monitoring it,” said Kataria on the bird flu situation in the State.

“We are also in contact with the Forest Department. The administration is on high alert,” he added.

Meanwhile, State Principal Secretary, Rajasthan, Kunjilal Meena has stated that a response team has been formed for surveillance purpose in various areas. “Pamphlets and posters will be put up to spread awareness among people,” said Meena.

He also said that the deaths due to bird flu have been mainly reported among crows, with most of them from the Kota and Jodhpur divisions.

“The virus is dangerous and necessary guidelines have been issued. All field officers and poultry farm owners have been asked to remain vigilant. Effective monitoring is ensured at all sites, especially in wetlands, Sambhar Lake and Kaila Devi bird sanctuary,” Meena said, adding a control room has been set up at the state level.

He said the crow deaths were reported on December 25 from Jhalawar. Their samples were sent to the National Institute of High-Security Animal Diseases (NIHSAD) in Bhopal and the bird flu virus was detected.

Till now, 47 crows have died in Kota, 100 in Jhalawar, 72 in Baran, 19 in Pali, 7 each in Jaipur and Jodhpur. No death reported in Bundi.

“The situation is not alarming, but we are vigilant, ensuring that this virus does not enter domestic animals. The guidelines are being followed and dead animals are buried as per instructions,” PTI quoted Additional Director Bhawani Rathore as saying.

“Over 75 samples from various places have been sent for testing,” he added.

“Avian influenza has been confirmed only in Jhalawar, but directions have been issued to track every instance, especially near water bodies,” said Chief Wildlife Warden ML Meena.

Bird flu virus detected in MP

Meanwhile, the bird flu virus has also been detected in Indore, Madhya Pradesh in around 50 crows whose carcasses were found in the city three days ago, putting the authorities on alert.

The authorities have now launched a drive to identify those with suspected flu symptoms in the area.

“Nearly fifty crows were found dead on the campus of Daly College on Tuesday. Some of the carcasses were sent for tests to Bhopal. They were found to be carrying the H5N8 virus,” Indore Chief Medical and Health Officer Poornima Gadaria told PTI.

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