Dharamshala residents fear migratory birds may cause bird flu

February 17th, 2008 - 11:42 pm ICT by admin  

By Akhilesh Bharti
Dharamshala, Feb.17 (ANI): Himachal Pradesh’s Pong reservoir in Dharamshala is a favourite destination for many species of migratory birds. But these days the area is under bird flu threat, as it is feared that these birds could be carrying the H5N1 virus along with them.
Thousands of migratory birds flock to the Pong reservoir that was declared an international wetland in 2001.
These migratory birds, who arrive here during September, stay on till March.
Locals say that regular check up of migratory birds is needed. All of them are worried after the news reports of spread of H5N1 virus spreading in other areas of the country.
“We face threat from migratory birds that come here, the government is not doing anything. They should conduct regular checks. Our poultry birds are under constant threat, as there is danger of their getting infected; so the government must take decisive steps,” said Mahesh Kumar, a local resident
These birds are mostly from Siberia, Indonesia, China and also from European countries.
The main species of birds here are geese and ducks, storks, rail gallinules and coots, cranes, shore birds, ibises and spoon bill, herons and egrets, cormorants and darters and grebes.
Over 100,000 birds fly down here every year. But now people are scared of their presence here due to bird flu.
Farmers and local residents around a 42 km area of Pong reservoir say they are living under constant threat of bird flu.
However, the wildlife department has asked the local residents not to panic, as they have sent samples for tests. It has also organised awareness programs.
“This year too we have taken samples of some birds and sent them to the laboratory. Although the results have not been sent by the laboratory, I think it will be negative because no symptoms have been found in any bird,” said V.K. Singh, conservator forest wild life at Dharamshala.
Besides, steps are being taken to ensure that migratory birds do not get mixed with domestic poultry of the State.
Around 1.50 lakh poultry birds have died of avian influenza, while 38 lakh or over six percent of the total poultry in West Bengal have been culled.
A total 50 blocks in 16 district out of the 19 West Bengal districts were affected by the bird flu virus. (ANI)

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