Rajasthan to set up lab for testing birds

After the spread of avian influenza among birds in Rajasthan, the government decided on Wednesday to set up an accredited laboratory for testing samples of avian species for various diseases.

The testing facility will help avoid delay in identifying the cause of abnormal behaviour among birds and taking preventive measures.

Animal Husbandry Minister Lalchand Kataria said here that a proposal for the establishment of a regional laboratory in Jaipur would be sent to the Centre shortly. The State was at present depending on the National Institute of High Security Animal Diseases, situated in Bhopal, to which it had sent about 100 samples with the request for suggesting a treatment regimen.

Mr. Kataria said the Bhopal lab had identified the H5N8 strain of avian influenza in samples collected from Jhalawar, Kota and Baran districts. โ€œThe samples from Jodhpur have tested negative for the strain. This indicates that the situation is not out of control… Our poultry farm owners need not worry,โ€ he said.

With the bird fatality count in the State crossing 650, the Animal Husbandry Department organised an interaction with representatives of poultry farm associations from all districts through video-conferencing on Wednesday. The farm owners were apprised of the biosecurity measures as well as the steps for disinfection among fowls and other birds.

A decision was also taken for preparing a database of about 2,500 poultry farms functioning in the State and submission of their inspection report to the department every day. Mr. Kataria said there was no need to panic, as rapid response teams were being appointed in each block and steps taken to contain the spread of the infection.

The Minister said there would be no ban on the sale of eggs, as no impact of bird flu had been found in the poultry sector so far. The avian influenza had mainly affected crows in the State, while other dead birds included heron and baya weaver.

Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot has also given instructions to ensure that the influenza virus was not transmitted to humans, through a strict adherence to the health protocol and safety measures. He said at a review meeting here that the carcasses of birds should be disposed of in a scientific manner.

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