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Culling in Gelephu

Bird Flu Outbreak: More than 396 birds of 46 households were culled in Namkhaling village, Gelephu, following an outbreak of a highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) H5NI in the locality.

Commonly known as bird flu, the outbreak was first reported in the police colony on January 14, when residents reported poultry deaths to livestock extension centre officials.

Rapid tests at the satellite veterinary laboratory in Gelephu tested the samples positive for influenza A and H5.  Livestock officials also sent dead birds to the national centre for animal health in Serbithang, Thimphu, where the carcasses tested positive for bird flu.

On January 18, 52 birds had died in five households, while more than 150 birds were at risk in Namkhaling village.  All affected birds were of local breed and reared under scavenging or free-ranging system.  The birds showed post-mortem lesions, which are very typical of bird flu.

Deputy chief veterinary officer with the national centre for animal health, Dr Kinzang Dukpa, said samples were, however, sent to high security animal disease laboratory in Bhopal, India, in accordance with World Organisation for Animal Health standards’ requirement.

He also said that more than 269 eggs were disposed, and 49 coops dismantled in Namkhaling.

Two vehicle disinfection points have been set up along the Gelephu-Sarpang and Gelephu-Zhemgang highways to prevent the flu’s spread.

Dr Kinzang Dukpa said such steps are taken to control and prevent the disease from spreading, as there are many poultry farms in Sarpang, including commercial farms.

“The movement of poultry-related products from the affected area have been restricted for safety,” he said.

Nearby poultry farms have been alerted to increase their bio-security measures, and are advised to inform officials of any death or sickness of any poultry.  Dr Kinzang Dukpa said people should extend cooperation to the livestock officials, by reporting of poultry deaths, or people trading poultry from affected areas.

Meanwhile, the outbreak has affected poultry owners in the locality. “I’ve taken loan to open this farm and I don’t know how I’ll repay the loan if I have to cull,” a resident of Pemaling, Nima, said.

By Tashi Dema, Gelephu

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