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200 migratory birds die in Maharashtra, no human case so far

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New Delhi, Feb 24 (UNI) Over 200 migratory 'shank' birds of red and green variety, were found dead in a lake at Gandheli in Aurangabad in Central Maharashtra today as the bird flu scare continued to cause serious losses to the about Rs 30,000 crore poultry industry with steep fall in prices as well as banning of inter-state and international imports.

The government said that no human case of avian influenza has been reported from any part of Maharashtra, so far, under close watch after the deadly flu broke out in the poultry farms at Navapur in Nadurbar district.

Sixty-six people suffering from Upper Respiratory Tract (URT) Infection are under surveillance. Only one of them, who had a history of contact with poultry, is under observation, according to the Health Ministry.

In addition, 92 farm workers in the affected poultry farms and 90 poultry workers in unaffected farms are also under surveillance and all were found to be asymptomatic, the Ministry's said.

A post-mortem report, conducted by Maharashtra Animal Husbandry department (AHD) has revealed that the birds died of pneumonia, AHD Deputy Commissioner J M Doiphode said adding ''no symptoms of bird flu were found in the migratory birds.'' However, samples of their viscera have been sent to the disease investigation section of the state government laboratory at Aundh in Pune and Bhopal-based High Security Animal Disease Laboratory, he said.

Besides, ten kites were found dead in Siliguri in West Bengal triggering panic among locals. The dead birds were found near Siliguri Sadar Hospital and Pradhan Nagar. The District administration had ruled out avian influenza as the possible cause of death. Joint Director, Animal Resources Development (Jalpaiguri), Laxmi Narayan Bannerjee said, ''The birds have died of some unknown disease. Though the possibility of bird flu is remote, we are not leaving anything to chance. The carcasses have been sent for post mortem.'' The Jharkhand government sealed its border with neighbouring states to stop entry of chickens following reports of death of birds in different parts of the state.

The decision was taken at a review meeting last evening, presided over by Chief Minister Arjun Munda. According to an official spokesman, the Chief Minister directed the officials to submit a list of registered and unregistered poultry farms within two days.

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