The Delhi Zoo has been shut to visitors for three days after three migratory birds died of H5N1 influenza virus during the past week. A total of 10 birds died at the zoo. Test results for the remaining seven birds are awaited.
Two birds died on Friday while six died on Saturday, and one each on Monday and Wednesday. As a precautionary step, staff and other birds at the zoo are being vaccinated. Zoo officials are also spraying disinfectants in the premises. This is the first bird flu case in Delhi, which comes after the Indian government declared itself free from bird flu in September.
"The virus has affected only migratory birds but since we do not want to take any chances, we have deputed teams to visit the Ghazipur chicken wholesale market and some prominent birding sites in Delhi such as the Yamuna Biodiversity Park, Najafgarh drain, Okhla bird sanctuary and Nizamuddin. These areas are also being sanitised," Delhi Rural Development Minister Gopal Rai was quoted as saying by the Times of India. "Preliminary reports have said that no other infected birds have been found so far," Rai added.
The Delhi government has assured that the situation isn't alarming and that they are taking precautions.
"As a precautionary measure, masks are being worn by the staff. More samples are being sent for testing. There is no need to panic as there is no threat to humans yet. The virus was found only in certain wild birds and we are taking all measures to prevent it from spreading," Amitabh Agnihotri, Delhi zoo director, said.
No human H5N1 case has been noted in India so far despite several incidents of epidemics among birds.
Officials of the health, environment, animal husbandry and revenue departments of Delhi, along with the zoo director, and central government ministeries will hold a meeting on Thursday. The government would also seek a meeting with officials of the Maharashtra government, which dealt with a similar situation in 2006.