Over 1,200 birds were found dead across the country on Saturday, including 900 in a poultry farm in Maharashtra, with the Centre saying that the outbreak of avian influenza has been reported in Uttar Pradesh, taking the total number of affected states to seven.
The Centre said confirmation of bird flu in Delhi, Chhattisgarh and Maharashtra, is awaited as the samples have been sent for testing, it said.
Besides Uttar Pradesh, the other six states where bird flu is confirmed are Kerala, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh, Haryana and Gujarat.
Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal announced a ban on import of live birds in the national capital and closure of Ghazipur poultry market, the biggest in the city, for the next 10 days in view of bird flu scare.
Noting that there is no confirmed case of avian influenza in Delhi so far, the chief minister said samples have been sent to Jalandhar laboratory. He also said that a 24-hour helpline has been set up for assistance of people.
He said the Delhi government is following all guidelines and directions issued by the central government with regards to bird flu.
"Rapid response teams have been formed in every district to contain the spread and conduct proper surveillance, and they will function under the district magistrates. Our veterinary officers are conducting proper surveys in all bird markets, wildlife establishments and water bodies across Delhi.
"The special focus of the teams are poultry market Ghazipur, Shakti Sthal Lake, Bhalswa Lake, Sanjay Lake, Delhi Zoo, DDA Parks, situated at Hauz Khas village, Pashchim Vihar and Dwarka," Kejriwal added.
At least 24 crows have been found dead at a district park in south Delhi''s Jasola in the past three days and 10 ducks have died at the famous Sanjay Lake, officials said.
"The samples of ducks found dead have been taken by the veterinary department authorities to ascertain if the cause of death was bird flu or not," a senior DDA official said.
On the death of crows, the DDA has informed the Delhi government's forest department, he said.
Three recreational parks and famous Sanjay Lake in Delhi were closed by authorities amid an avian flu scare in the city as several birds were found dead on their premises in the last couple of days, officials said.
Besides, the popular Hauz Khas Park in south Delhi, which is a huge water body and attracts a large number of crowd every day, has also been shut, they said.
As many as 900 hens have died at a poultry farm in Murumba village in Parbhani district of Maharashtra, a senior official said.
Their samples have been sent for investigation to identify the exact cause of the death, Parbhani district collector Deepak Mulgikar told PTI.
He said the poultry farm where the death of birds was reported is run by a Self Help Group (SHG).
Prima facie, the death of hens could be related to nutrition, the collector said, adding that the test results are awaited.
Over 350 birds were reported dead in Rajasthan, taking the death count to 2,512, an official said.
Of the 356 birds reported dead on Saturday, 257 were crows, 29 pigeons, 16 peacocks and 54 others.
Even as Gujarat recorded its first confirmed cases of bird flu, four crows were found dead at a village in Mangrol taluka in the state''s Junagadh district.
The state on Friday recorded its first cases of bird flu after samples taken from two dead lapwings recovered in the district tested positive for the infection.
"We found carcasses of four crows at Loej village on Friday evening. The remains will be sent to a laboratory in Bhopal to ascertain the cause of death," said Ashok Kumbhani, veterinary officer of Mangrol veterinary dispensary in the district.
Out of 10 birds found in the area, four were dead at the spot and six are currently under treatment, the official said.
Six crows were found dead in Dakshina Kannada, bordering Kerala and samples have been sent for testing to ascertain the cause of death.
Five crows were found dead in a drain in the Sitabpur area in Uttarakhand's Pauri Garhwal district. Samples of the dead birds have been sent to a laboratory in Bhopal for testing, Veterinary Officer BM Gupta said.
A response team headed by a doctor and four health workers has been formed at the district level to keep a track on the death of birds and chickens and taking the samples for testing, Chief Veterinary Officer in Pauri SK Bartwal said.
A drive to cull over 1.60 lakh poultry birds at five poultry farms commenced in Haryana's Panchkula district on Saturday, officials said.
The move comes after samples of some birds in two poultry farms at Kheri and Ganauli villages in Panchkula tested positive for the H5N8 strain of avian flu on Friday.
"The process (to cull birds) started today by the state's animal husbandry department," Panchkula Deputy Commissioner M K Ahuja said.
He said it will take around two to three days to complete the drive.
The deputy commissioner further informed that a team of National Institute of High Security Animal Diseases, Bhopal would visit Panchkula next week.