Bird Flu Spread at Pong Dam Puts Region on High Alert

Dharamshala: The death of hundreds of migratory birds around the Pong Dam reservoir in recent days have been attributed to the spread of H5N1 avian Influenza (Bird Flu), which has put the administration in the region on high alert.

Confirming the spread of bird flu Kangra District magistrate Rakesh Prajapati said “a report by ICAR National Institute of High-Security Animal Disease, Bhopal has confirmed that the death of these migratory birds at Pong Dam wildlife sanctuary is because of H5N1 avian Influenza.”

Wild life wardens had taken note of several migratory birds dying because of mysterious conditions over the past two-three days. Sample of these birds carcasses was sent to the Bhopal laboratory for testing.

“To prevent any further spread of this contagious disease, preventive measures are being taken in and around Pong Dam reservoir as per set protocol,” said Prajapati.

Bar-headed geese at Pong Dam backwaters: Photo by Sanjeeva Pandey (File Photo)

He cautioned that there was a real and imminent threat to the life of the people living near the reservoir. “To contain the spread, some restrictions are being imposed,” he said. “All tourist activities in and around Pong Dam sanctuary is being suspended,” he added.

The Deputy Commissioner has advised taking special precautions at Poultry Farm in the area. Apart from this, the sale of chicken and eggs has been banned in four subdivisions of Kangra namely – Indora, Fatehpur, Jawali, and Dehra. The shops concerned will be closed from today until further orders. These four subdivisions are adjacent to the Pong Dam. In such a situation, the administration has issued an alert here.

As per centre for disease prevention government of India, Avian flu or influenza refers to the disease caused by infection with avian influenza viruses. These viruses occur naturally among wild aquatic birds worldwide and can infect domestic poultry and other bird and animal species. Avian flu viruses do not normally infect humans. However, sporadic human infections with avian flu viruses have occurred.

Avian influenza A viruses are very contagious among birds and some of these viruses can sicken and even kill certain domesticated bird species, including chickens, ducks, and turkeys. Infected bids can shed avian influenza A viruses in their saliva, nasal secretions, and faeces. Susceptible birds become infected when they have contact with the virus as it is shed by infected birds. They also can become infected through contact with surfaces that are contaminated with virus from infected birds.

Maharana Pratap Sagar, in Himachal, also known as Pong Reservoir or Pong Dam Lake was created in 1975 on Beas river.

Arvind Sharma is an award winning bi-lingual journalist with more than 20 years of experience. He has worked with Divya Himachal, Dainik Jagran, Dainik Bhasker, Vir Partap, Ajit and PTI. In 2010, he was conferred the Himachal Kesri journalism award. He reports on the Tibetan Government in Exile, politics, sports, tourism and other topics. He lives in Dharamshala.

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