Park in Delhi shut af­ter sus­pected bird flu deaths

Kuwait Times - - INTERNATIONAL -

NEW DELHI: City au­thor­i­ties have closed a sprawl­ing park in the heart of New Delhi af­ter eight birds died of sus­pected bird flu, days af­ter the city zoo was closed to the pub­lic af­ter nine birds died there. New Delhi’s Devel­op­ment Min­is­ter Gopal Rai said yes­ter­day that eight bird deaths were re­ported to city au­thor­i­ties on Thurs­day. These in­cluded two more bird deaths in the Delhi Zoo and two dead birds found in the Hauz Khas Deer Park.

City of­fi­cials said three dead crows were also found in a res­i­den­tial neigh­bor­hood near the zoo. Au­top­sies were planned on all the dead birds. The zoo was closed to the pub­lic Tues­day af­ter au­top­sies con­firmed at least three birds had died from H5N1 avian in­fluenza. Rai said au­topsy re­sults of the birds that died Thurs­day were not known yet but the gov­ern­ment was tak­ing the pre­cau­tion of clos­ing the park.

H5N1 poses no ap­par­ent threat to hu­mans, but highly path­o­genic strains can be deadly to do­mes­tic poul­try and, rarely, wild birds. Delhi’s Hauz Khas Deer Park is home to hun­dreds of deer, pea­cocks and other birds. De­scribed as one of the few “green lungs” of the highly pol­luted cap­i­tal, the park is pop­u­lar with jog­gers and walk­ers.

At this time of the year, bird sanc­tu­ar­ies, wildlife parks and wa­ter bod­ies around north­ern In­dia are crowded with mi­gra­tory birds fly­ing south for the winter. Rai said va­ca­tions had been can­celed for all em­ploy­ees of the city’s an­i­mal hus­bandry depart­ment in case more dead birds are found. An­i­mal health of­fi­cials vis­ited the cap­i­tal’s main poul­try mar­kets and took sam­ples from dif­fer­ent batches of chick­ens brought for sale. “We are closely mon­i­tor­ing bird sanc­tu­ar­ies, poul­try farms and chicken whole­sale mar­kets,” Rai said. Mean­while, 15 storks have died over the past three days in a zoo in the cen­tral In­dian city of Gwalior. Zoo of­fi­cial Pradeep Sri­vas­tava said zoo au­thor­i­ties were wait­ing for the au­topsy re­ports on the painted storks to de­ter­mine if avian in­fluenza was present be­fore de­cid­ing whether or not to shut the zoo. — AP

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