Nearly 100 Migratory Birds Found Dead Amid Second Wave Of Bird Flu In Himachal

Sambhar Lake: A civic worker carries a dead bird at the Sambhar Salt Lake in Rajasthan, Tuesday, Nov. 12, 2019. Officials said they suspect water contamination as one of the reasons for the deaths but were awaiting viscera test reports. Though the official toll was 1,500, locals claimed the number of dead birds could be as high as 5,000. (PTI Photo/Ravi Choudhary) (PTI11_12_2019_000219B)

About 100 migratory birds have been discovered dead in Pong Dam Lake in the last two weeks after the outbreak of a second wave of bird flu in Himachal Pradesh, wildlife officials said today.

The case of bird flu was first confirmed among migratory waterbirds at Pong Dam Lake Wildlife Sanctuary in early January that left around 5,000 birds died in a month. Although the effect of flue halted in the month of February but again since late March beginning sudden spike was discovered with a dozen bird carcasses in the sanctuary on March 25.

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Chief Wildlife Warden Archana Sharma stated that the National Institute of High-Security Animal Diseases (NIHSAD) in Bhopal has approved the presence of H5N8 avian influenza among the samples of the dead birds. She stated that this strain is different from the previous outbreak when H5N1 had been identified among the migratory birds. As of Tuesday, 99 birds have been discovered dead at Pong Dam lake during this resurgence, she added.

Certain incidents of deaths of other birds have also been documented from other parts of the state, including Theog in Shimla district and Manali in Kullu district, and their samples have been taken for testing by the animal husbandry department.

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Meantime, the sanctuary has again been blocked for visitors, and the bird flu action plan has been initiated, which includes inspection, testing and systematic disposal of dead birds, Ms Sharma said.