Clearing the air about the speculations among people that the Avian Influenza (H5N8) which had affected a few birds in the Mysuru Zoo might spread to surrounding areas, Zoo Authority of Karnataka (ZAK) chairperson Mallige Veeresh said that all necessary measures were being taken to control the spreading of H5N8 and that residents in surrounding areas need not panic.
“All the animals and birds in the zoo are safe. Guidelines issued by the Central Zoo Authority of India (CZAI) are strictly being followed. The Chief Minister Siddaramaiah in a meeting on Friday has also directed the officials to take the utmost care of animals and birds and follow the instructions issued by the CZAI,” Veeresh told mediapersons on Saturday.
Siddaramaiah had chaired a meeting with senior Forest and Animal Husbandry officials on Friday to discuss the bird flu outbreak at the zoo. The principal secretaries to both departments, commissioners, directors and the Principal Chief Conservator of Forests (Wildlife) attended the meeting, which lasted about 45 minutes.
So far, six birds have died due to H5N8, while the recently sent sample of a dead spot-billed pelican found in pond number 3 at the Mysuru zoo have tested negative for avian influenza H5N8.
Director of Institute of Animal Health & Veterinary Biologicals, Dr S M Byregowda said that samples of birds will be sent for test every 15 days. Considering the incubation period of the virus in damp conditions, he ruled out the possibility of reopening of the Zoo before February 2.
“I compliment the zoo officials for taking prompt action following the positive result of H5N8. Though it is less pathogenic and can’t affect human beings, there is a possibility that the virus can mix up with other viruses and can become deadly,” he said, adding, “There are also chances of human beings becoming a carriers of the virus and the virus spreading across poultry forms in the district.”
The H5N8 was also reported in New Delhi Zoo and it was closed for three months.
Karanji Lake under watch
Mysuru Zoo Executive Director Kamala Karikalan said that birds at Karanji Lake were under surveillance and the concerned staff were keeping a vigil on the birds to check the possible symptoms of H5N8. She claimed that the H5N8 virus might have been carried by spot-billed pelican migrated from Kerala.