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Rajasthan Gears Up To Fight Against Avian Flu

Jaipur: Rajasthan a known haven for migratory birds, is taking steps to check the spread of avian flu that has already struck parts of Asia and Europe. //

Every winter the desert state receives thousands of birds from all over the world. Keoladeo bird sanctuary, once the royal hunting preserve of the princes of Bharatpur spread over an area of 29 sq km, is home to 400 species of water birds.

Exotic migratory birds from Afghanistan, Tibet, Central Asia, the Siberian cranes from Siberia, and bar headed geese from China flock this sanctuary in winters.

The water birds, which are migrating to India from countries like Russia, are especially risky when it comes to bird flu, experts opine.

Rajasthan is undertaking blood test of domestic birds that come in contact with the migratory birds. Many countries have stepped up efforts to tackle avian flu as fears of the deadly H5N1 strain of the flu virus spread across the world.

In districts where the migratory birds arrive, we have asked officials to take blood samples of domestic birds that come in contact with these migratory birds, said Prabhu Lal Saini, Rajasthan's minister of agriculture and animal husbandry.

At present there is no reason to worry. We had done a similar kind of test on birds in February and all reports were negative, Saini said.

As a precautionary measure, we have again started this exercise from September-end, the minister added.
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