Third NICC meeting on recent bird flu outbreak

The IOC commander, Dr. Tenzin updated on outbreak situation
The IOC commander, Dr. Tenzin updated on outbreak situation

May 5, Thimphu: The third meeting of the National Incident Command Committee (NICC) chaired by the Hon’ble Agriculture Secretary, Dasho Tenzin Dhendup; Thimphu Thrompon, Dasho Kinlay Dorjee and the NICC members discussed the status of the recent bird flu outbreak at Thimphu City Camp that was reported March 31.

With the activation of the Incident Operation Centre (IOC) on April 15, various rapid response teams were formed to depopulate, decontaminate along with quarantine and movement control, surveillance and health teams. These teams provided the NICC members with the updates on the disease containment activities undertaken in the affected areas.

The depopulation team had disposed 34 table eggs and 42 hatching eggs. Seventeen adult chickens and four day old chicks were also culled and disposed in the pit. Three coops and poultry enclosure were dismantled and burnt with other risk containing goods during decontamination on 15-16 and April 21.

The demarcated quarantine zone was displayed with notifications at the entry and exist points and foot dips to disinfect the foot wears. Further, the quarantine and movement control team banned the movement of poultry and poultry products from the infected area.

The affected poultry owners were compensated with a total sum of Nu. 8,265. The health officials along with the IOC members also created awareness to some 29 schools in and around the Thimphu city since the outbreak.

The team also surveyed 12 risk areas of the city to identify backyard poultry farmers and collect baseline data on flock characteristics, bio-security, knowledge and practices of backyard poultry farmers to ensure disease control and personnel hygiene.

As per the survey, the indentified poultry keepers have a poor bio-security practice that increases the risk of disease outbreak in future. It was found that 64% of the poultry keepers using wooden coops while 7% using basket coops. The 38% coops were found to be attached to the family house with scavenging system and access to wild birds as well as families further increasing the risk of disease contact and outbreak.

‘Looking at the present stage, the survey shows a very high risk. It will not be a month that another outbreak might occur, ‘ said Mr. Karma Dorji, the Director General of BAFRA. He also highlighted that the poultry keepers should be organised and that there should be occasional monitoring by the relevant officials.

Following the discussion on the requirement of a policy decision on backyard poultry farming in Thimphu city area, Dasho Thrompon said ‘We do not want to do away, we want to support.’ Since most of the poultry keepers were from the low income group, he stated that they should not hamper the income and livelihood of these people.

Dasho Thrompon stated that they intend to ‘look at having space’ and to give a ‘decent living’ to the people. In this regard, he proposed the Ministry and Thromde ‘to adopt a proper system of raising birds’ in city which can be further replicated to other parts.’ He stated with this ‘we will be able to make sure that such outbreak will not happen.’

Dasho Secretary added ‘If necessary, poultry keepers will have to go through a short training.’ The Director General of BAFRA added that the technologies are enough, just that the people need to follow the rules.

The IOC members reported that there were no fresh cases of poultry mortality reported since 3D operation till April 4. Considering the outbreak situation under full control, the NICC officially deactivated the IOC on May 5.

Reported by Tashi Yangzom and photo by Tandin Norbu, ICS

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