Delhi on high alert as bird flu spreads thick and fast
Picture for representation Reuters

India is on a bird flu alert after eight more avians succumbed to the disease in the last 48 hours in the capital city of New Delhi and after reports of at least 15 painted storks dying in the Gwalior Zoo in the central state of Madhya Pradesh.

According to the Daily Mail, the senior officials confirmed the number of dead birds hit 18 after two more birds died each in Delhi Zoo and Deer Park. It was also reported that three dead birds were also spotted in Sundar Nagar near the zoo and one in Tughlakabad in south Delhi.

Both the zoo and the Deer Park have been shut down and an alert has been issued in places which are likely to be visited by migratory birds. Moreover, people have been asked not to touch any dead birds.

Samples of bird carcasses are also being sent to laboratories for confirmation of bird flu.

"We've asked for the park to be closed indefinitely and find out if more deaths are taking place," said Delhi development minister Gopal Rai, according to Times of India.

"But people should be alert about birds dying in their localities. One should not venture near bird carcasses and immediately report any death to the helpline (011-23890318) being run by the state," the minister added.

It was reported that the Delhi government has set up a 23-member committee, headed by development commissioner Sandeep Kumar, to coordinate work among various departments. The committee is also expected to probe the reasons behind the death of the birds.

Gopal Rai urged poultry farms to be on alert and asked them to dispose of waste cautiously. "We have asked to take precaution at Ghazipur chicken mandi and MCD will ensure proper disposal of the waste," said Rai, as reported by Daily Mail.

"We are trying to control the situation before it gets bad. For now, citizens need not worry and just be careful and alert," he added.

Bird flu, medically known as avian flu, is caused by H5N1 and the symptoms may range from "typical" flu symptoms (fever,sore throat, muscle pain) to eye infections and pneumonia.

It was in 2006 that bird flu first broke out in India and millions of chickens and ducks were culled to stop the spread of the virus.