Chukha: A bird flu outbreak which was reported on April 9 killing 264 poultry birds in local backyard and semi-commercial poultry farms in Dhamdara, Phuentsholing is now under control.
The general public are urged not to get alarmed since the disease is contained at the source of outbreak and required control measures are already put in place. However, the public are advised to take precautions like washing of hands after handling poultry, chicken and eggs with soap and water.
The disease was confirmed through a laboratory test at the National Centre for Animal Health (NCAH), Serbithang using reverse transcriptase-Polymerase Chain Reaction test. Following the confirmation, the National Incident Command Committee chaired by the Hon’ble Secretary of the Ministry of Agriculture and Forests immediately activated the Incident Operation Centre (IOC) at Thromde Veterinary Hospital/Satellite Laboratory in Phuentsholing with the rapid response team for immediate containment and response to the outbreak.
There are around 2000 poultry birds both local and improved in the affected areas at the risk. Bird Flu is a viral disease which affects both human and poultry population through Avian Influenza A virus. So far, Bhutan had twelve outbreaks since 2010 and the Ministry had been effectively containing the disease with support from relevant stakeholders with no incidence of Bird Flu in human being.
According to Dr. Basant Sharma, the IOC Commander, a total of 1130 poultry birds were depopulated, 3955 eggs and 15 bags feed disposed, and 12 coops destroyed involving 13 households as of April 12. He added that the investigation is underway to find the source of outbreak. Further, disease surveillance are underway at Bhalaytar and Toorsa area. The health officials are also involved in creating public awareness with distribution of Tamiflu for safety. Other preventive actions includes disinfection of infected areas and setting up of vehicle disinfection point at Dhamdara.
The disease has a huge risk of spread through movement of live and infected poultry including eggs and through vehicle. All the vehicles plying out of the demarcated infected or restricted zone are thoroughly disinfected. All the poultry farmers are also cautioned to comply with utmost farm bio-security measures and should not allow any visitors into the farms without proper safety measures.
The Ministry urges the relevant agencies and public of Phuentsholing to provide full support to the Bird Flu containment and response team in order to declare the area disease free. The public is also requested to report to the IOC office in Phuentsholing for any instances of sick birds or illegal movement of poultry and products into the Dzongkhag for safety.
The rapid response team to the Bird Flu outbreak comprises of members from the Department of Livestock, Chukha Dzongkhag Livestock Sector, Department of Public Health, Royal Bhutan Police, Bhutan Agriculture and Food Regulatory Authority and the Regional Livestock Development Centre Tsimasham and local authorities in Phuentsholing.
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