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Punjab issues advisory for monitoring poultry farms, wetlands amid bird flu scare

   (News Agencies)-Authorities in Punjab on Wednesday have alerted officials to keep tabs on any unusual deaths of migratory or poultry birds in the state amid the ongoing bird flu scare. Officials told news agency PTI that no cases of bird flu have been reported in the state so far. The advisory has been issued after cases of bird flu were detected in several states. The state's animal husbandry director Harbinder Singh Kahlon said that an advisory has been issued for "surveillance of commercial and backyard poultry farms to find detect any unusual mortality in birds.The advisory has been sent to all 22 deputy directors of the department to ensure the regular visit of field staff to commercial and backyard poultry farms in the state, Kahlon added. In a situation where any unusual mortality is found in poultry farm birds, the samples will be sent to the Northern Regional Disease Diagnostic Laboratory (RDDL), Jalandhar, to find the cause. The Department of Forests and Wildlife Preservation has also issued an advisory for maintaining extra vigilance around lakes and wetlands in the state, reported the news agency. It may be noted that a large number of migratory birds such as gulls, reeve and more arrive at Harike Pattan in Tarn Taran every year. Other wetlands in the state are in Gurdaspur, Rupnagar and Nangal. Strict protocols have been issued for the collection of samples in case any migratory bird is found dead, officials told PTI and added that all possible precautions are being taken.It is worth mentioning that samples of dead migratory birds at Pong Dam Lake sanctuary in Kangra district of Himachal Pradesh have tested positive for the H5N8 strain of bird flu. Meanwhile, four lakh poultry birds have died at 20 farms in Haryana's Panchkula district in the past several days.Panchkula's Barwala-Raipur Rani area is one of the largest poultry belts in the country with nearly 70-80 lakh birds in more than 100 farms. Officials said that the mortality rate in poultry birds was unusually high this winter, but there was no confirmed report of avian influenza as of now.Poultry farmers in Panchkula have attributed the high mortality rate in birds due to extreme cold weather conditions. As the situation stands, the Centre has issued a bird flu alert to states after cases of H5N1 avian influenza were reported from several places across the country. The central government has asked states to take all possible measures to contain the spread of the disease on an "urgent basis".



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