Hundreds of crows have died in Rajasthan prompting authorities to sound a bird flu alert in the state. The dreaded virus was confirmed in dead crows in the Jhalawar district and many other cities, including Jaipur, officials said.
The bird deaths began from December 25 in Jhalawar, some 340km from state capital Jaipur. Most deaths have been reported among crows, with most of them from Kota and Jodhpur.
On Sunday, seven crows were found dead at the iconic Jal Mahal in the capital, taking the total deaths to 252 in the state.
So far, the death of 100 crows has been reported from Jhalawar, 72 from Baran, 47 from Kota, 19 from Pali and seven from Jodhpur and Jaipur each.
The samples were sent to National Institute of High-Security Animal Diseases (NIHSAD) in Bhopal where the deadly virus was detected.
A team was sent to Jhalawar and 1km of the district's Balaji area was cordoned off and Section 144 imposed. Carcasses of the birds were being disposed of carefully in pits in the area - which was then sanitised carefully. The team took all precautions and wore safety gear.
A special team has been sent to Ajmer and to Bharatpur to oversee the situation.
Ajmer has a thriving poultry industry and Bharatpur is a cause for concern as its home to Ghana, a protected wetland where the famous bird sanctuary receives hundreds of migratory birds at this time of the year.
Last year in Sambhar, another site for migratory birds avian botlusim had led to the deaths of hundrends of birds and the wildlife department is also worried by the reports of the flu.
The Animal Husbandry Department has set up a state-level control room and sent its teams to the districts for effective monitoring, officials said.
The Principal Secretary of the Animal Husbandry department, Kunji Lal Meena, told reporters that effective monitoring is being ensured.
"The virus is dangerous and necessary guidelines have been issued. All field officers and poultry farm owners have been asked to remain vigilant. Effective monitoring is ensured at all sites, especially in wetlands, Sambhar Lake and Kaila Devi bird sanctuary," Mr Meena said.
Department Secretary Arushi Malik said the Centre's guidelines are being followed and an alert has been sounded in all districts.
Rajasthan Animal Husbandry Minister Lalchand Kataria said an emergency meeting of officials has been called.
Over 75 samples from various places have been sent for testing, an official said.
Chief Wildlife Warden ML Meena said the department has sounded an alert, and the field staff has been asked to be more vigilant.
"Pamphlet and posters will be put up to spread awareness among people," said Mr Meena.
In Western Madhya Pradesh too, bird flu has been detected in around 50 crows whose carcasses were found in Indore few days back.