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Centre forms panel to keep vigil on bird flu situation

New Delhi: The Centre today formed a three-member committee to keep a close watch on the bird flu situation even as over 40 avian deaths have been reported in the national capital.

“Acting swiftly on the reports of mortality among the birds in National Zoological Park, Delhi NCR and other parts of the country due to H5 avian influenza virus, the Environment Minister has directed to constitute a monitoring committee for overseeing the outbreak of the influenza,” an official statement said.

The committee will oversee the daily incidences of H5 avian influenza in Delhi’s National Zoological Park and other zoos of the country and submit a daily report to Environment Minister Anil Madhav Dave, it said.

Over 40 birds have died at different places, including 17 ducks at the Hauz Khas Deer Park, since October 14.

The committee comprises of Member Secretary of Central Zoo Authority, Director National Zoological Park and Deputy Inspector General of Forest (Widlife).

The Environment Ministry said there has been no mortality among the free-ranging birds of the National Zoological Park today.

However, to control the disease various actions have been taken which include active surveillance in the zoo, regular screening for any dead birds, continuing measures on bio- security, closing of zoo for the safety of visitors and to control the disease among others.

The statement said a team of doctors from Animal Husbandry Department have visited Delhi zoo for monitoring while a team of medical doctors examined exposed employees of the zoo and prescribed medication.

Dave had earlier tweeted, “Constant vigil being observed by Government agencies in & around National Zoological Park to monitor & contain H5 Avian Influenza in.. coordination with State level Agencies. @moefcc has constituted a three-member committee to keep a close watch over the developments,”

The Delhi government has shut the Hauz Khas Deer Park amid bird flu scare. It has also cancelled leaves of all officials of Delhi Animal Husbandry Department.

However, it has ruled out any threat to human beings due to the bird flu because the strain of the virus is “less infective”.

The Department of Animal Husbandry, Dairying and Fisheries at the Centre had yesterday said a new bird flu virus subtype, H5N8, has been confirmed in samples from Gandhi Zoological Park, Gwalior.

It had also asked the Environment Ministry to issue advisories to all wildlife/bird sanctuaries in the country.

In view of transportation of poultry and related products between Rajasthan and Delhi, the Rajasthan government has also issued necessary directions to the field officers and asked them to take “precautionary measures” to check its likely outbreak in the state.