Bird flu out­break in Thim­phu camp city

Bhutan Times - - Home - Pema Choki/ Thim­phu

A bird flu out­break has been re­ported at the Thim­phu City camp in Motithang which has killed 16 poul­try birds be­long­ing to three house­holds. The first poul­try death was re­ported by one of the own­ers on 3rd of April fol­low­ing which a team from the Na­tional Cen­tre for An­i­mal Health (NCAH) vis­ited the site for in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

The camp site has more than 30 semi-per­ma­nent struc­tures with six house­holds rear­ing lo­cal breed poul­try birds for egg pro­duc­tion. Ac­cord­ing to Dr. Kin­zang Dukpa, the Pro­gram Direc­tor for NCAH, the ini­tial testing of the two dead bird sam­ples tested neg­a­tive to rapid test. How­ever, the sam­ples tested at NCAH through poly­merase chain re­ac­tion later on 6-7 April tested pos­i­tive to in­fluenza A, H5 and N1.

As per the in­terna- tional norms, six sam­ples (five from af­fected area and one from nearby farm) were sent to the Na­tional In­sti­tute of High Se­cu­rity An­i­mal Dis­eases, Bhopal which has con­firmed the out­break yes­ter­day.

Prior to the con­fir­ma­tion, the im­me­di­ate dis­ease pre­ven­tive mea­sures like dis­in­fec­tion, de­con­tam­i­na­tion and sur­veil­lance of the nearby poul­try farms were al­ready in place. A team was also there to fol­low up on any new cases while an­other team was sent out­side the af­fected area to avoid fur­ther ex­pan­sion.

While talk­ing to the poul­try own­ers, they shared that their par­ent stock were in­tro­duced two to four years ago and were reared lo­cally in the camp. Dur­ing the in­ves­ti­ga­tion, the NCAH team no­ticed no typ­i­cal clin­i­cal signs of bird flu; it was in sub-clin­i­cal form which is more risky ac­cord­ing to Dr. Kin­zang Dukpa.

For safety, the move- ment of poul­try and poul­try prod­ucts from the camp has been re­stricted and aware­ness is be­ing cre­ated to the lo­cals. The public health of­fi­cials have been also alerted to mon­i­tor the lo­cal’s health at camp site in­clud­ing the school chil­dren.

The out­break was dis­cussed dur­ing an emer­gency meet­ing of the Na­tional In­ci­dent Com­mand Cen­tre (NICC) held on 10 April. The meet­ing high­lighted that no new death cases af­ter the last re­ported on 4 April. Fur­ther, 16 birds with other three poul­try own­ers were still healthy with no signs of sick­ness and un­der strict ob­ser­va­tion. None of the peo­ple in the area had any health prob­lem in­clud­ing those who have han­dled poul­try birds.

The meet­ing also noted the con­cerns on the late ar­rival of sam­ple re­port from Bhopal. On this, the Live­stock Depart­ment has been di­rected to ex­plore the pos­si­bili- ties to re­ceive im­me­di­ate ac­tion. Con­sid­er­ing the milder na­ture of the in­fec­tion, the meet­ing had de­cided that culling of the re­main­ing birds will be con­sid­ered should there be any new poul­try deaths in the af­fected area.

As the out­break has been con­firmed, the NICC mem­bers met again to­day and de­cided to start the 3D op­er­a­tion (De­pop­u­la­tion, Dis­posal and De­con­tam­i­na­tion) as per the pro­to­cols.

Ac­cord­ing to Dr. Ten­zin from NCAH, the birds were put un­der strict quar­an­tine since April 10 and are still healthy with no sign of bird flu symptoms. ‘But con­sid­er­ing the high risk in­volved, it is bet­ter to fol­low the pro­to­cols for safety’ he added.

Fur­ther, the ac­tive sur­veil­lance in and around Thim­phu is in full swing cov­er­ing around 6000 num­bers of birds in backyard and semi-com­mer­cial farms as of now. The BAFRA has also placed foot dips at en­try and exit points of the af­fected area to con­trol the spread of dis­ease.

The sec­ond NICC meet­ing also no­ticed the out­break be­ing re­ported mostly in backyard farms, the last out­break in 2012 was also in one of the back yard farms in Kala Bazaar. It is ex­pected that the Min­istry may once again re­quest Thromde not to al­low the rear­ing of poul­try birds within the town premises to avoid risk of hu­man in­fec­tion.

Although, the source of out­break is not yet known, the sit­u­a­tion is un­der con­trol with im­me­di­ate sup­port from all the stake­hold­ers in­clud­ing BAFRA, po­lice, dis­as­ter man­age­ment, public health, Thromde and oth­ers. The Min­istry has de­clared the out­break through a public no­ti­fi­ca­tion re­quest­ing the gen­eral public not to get alarmed and ex­tend their full sup­port dur­ing the 3D op­er­a­tion.

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