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Bhitarkanika Sanctuary In Orissa Takes Precaution To Monitor Bird Flu

The risk of Bird flu incidence into Bhitarkanika Sanctuary in Orissa is very high as migratory birds are expected// to arrive in this sanctuary in an other 2-3 weeks. Bhitarkanika Sanctuary is about 174 km from Bhubaneswar, Orissa which has nearly 300,000 migratory birds arrive from all parts of the world during winter, the sanctuary also as a collection of very large mangrove forests and estuarine crocodiles, an estimated 265 species of birds are regularly sighted. The Sanctuary is also known as the world's largest rookery of Olive Ridley sea turtles. The sanctuary as 30,000 local birds and there are chances that these local birds can get infected from the migratory birds.

World wide threat of bird flu is very high due to possible mutation in the strain which may cause epidemic of contagious flu disease in humans which can be very deadly. The Sanctuary officials are taking necessary steps to prevent and detect any bird flu incidence in the sanctuary. The officials has written to the local administration to send a team of health and veterinary department officials to create awareness among people to detect flu-infected migratory birds by organizing awareness camps and workshops in villages within the park areas and in the Kendrapada district head quarter to inform people about the disease and also distributing posters and leaflets about the symptoms of the flu and precautionary measures.

According to A.K. Jena, divisional forest officer of Bhitarkanika, a team of ornithologists and scientists from Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS) will shortly visit Bhitarkanika and Chilika Lake, 100 km from Bhubaneswar, to study local and migratory birds. He added, 'The authorities are also keeping vigil on poultry farms in the district so that any epidemic among the birds will be noticed and many poachers trap local and migratory birds and sell the meat to roadside hotels and eateries. The forest department has warned people not to partake of bird meat.

Mr. Hemanth Sharma, District Collector, Said, The forest department and district administration have formed a special squad, involving NGOs, health officials, veterinary doctors, environmentalists, village council officials and scientists to monitor the health of the local and migratory birds and the officials will also collect blood samples of birds if they suspect the presence of flu in Bhitarkanika, he said.

Migratory birds like bar-headed geese, brahmini duck, great black-headed gull, shovellers and cormorants would be monitored, as it is believed that the deadly H5N1 strain is being spread mainly by these five avian species.

Avian Influenza or Bird Flu:

This is also commonly called bird flu. Although the disease mainly spreads from birds to other animal species, even to humans, In the avian form, the disease is borne by wild birds, especially ducks, and so it may be difficult to contain the spread of the disease. The first cases of humans being infected by the strain of H5N1 avian influenza were reported in January 2004 in Thailand and Vietnam.

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