After a gap of one year, bird flu has once again reported in the Kuttanad region of Alappuzha district, forcing the authorities to strengthen surveillance within a 10 km radius of the region.

The State Animal Husbandry Minister, J Chinchurani said that the situation is under control and there is no need for panic.

According to officials, there were reports of mass bird deaths from Muttar and Ambalapuzha North in Alappuzha district on Sunday with a farmer losing around 160 ducks and more than 90 broiler chickens in a poultry farm.

Last week, the presence of H5N1 subtype of the Influenza A virus had reported in ducks in Edathua and Cheruthana in Kuttanad region, forcing the authorities to cull 18,000 birds. Within four days, the virus outbreak has been reported spreading to Muttar and Ambalapuzha North in a limited manner.

KR Sajeev Kumar, District Animal Husbandry Officer said the collected samples from the region with suspect bird flu will be sent to National Institute of High Security Animal Diseases (NIHSAD) in Bhopal for final confirmation. The results are expected in the next couple of days. The avian flu outbreak can only be declared after confirmation from the NIHSAD, he said.

TP Sethumadhavan, former director of Kerala Veterinary and Animal Sciences University, said the outbreak of avian influenza in Alappuzha started affecting duck production in the State. It is the fourth time in three years that avian influenza has been confirmed in the region.

Consumption unaffected

However, the present outbreak has not affected consumption of poultry in the State except in some parts of Alappuzha and adjoining areas where consumption of duck eggs and duck meat has reduced substantially. Currently, duck farmers are struggling to sustain because of continuous outbreak of diseases and subsequent culling. Moreover, compensation packages are mostly inadequate, he said.

Binny Emmatty, president of Poultry Farmers and Traders Samithy, said the emerging situation has not affected broiler chicken sales in the State other than in the affected areas. Though the prices are registering a drop, it is because of the market fluctuations and is now ruling at ₹133 for live bird and ₹180 for meat.

According to poultry farmers, 50 per cent of production has been affected due to extreme summer. The supply-demand mismatch is maintaining the price at a higher rate, which would not help poor farmers to make the system viable. More than 40 per cent of the broiler producers are not involved in farming nowadays.

Meanwhile, there are reports that the entry of poultry and associated products from Kerala and Karnataka has been banned in the Nilgiris following the detection of bird flu virus at Alappuzha. The authorities there have taken measures to prevent the entry of poultry products from Kerala and Karnataka through the inter-State border check posts.