A bird flu (H5N1) outbreak has affected 13 poultry farms and one turkey farm at Dhamdara in Phuentsholing.

The outbreak was confirmed on April 8 through laboratory test from National Centre for Animal Health (NCAH), Serbithang, Thimphu.

No human contact was reported.

In response, a total of 1,130 poultry birds in the affected areas were culled, about 4,002 eggs disposed, 613kgs of feed disposed and 12 chicken coops destroyed.

The National Incident Command Committee (NICC) has activated the Incident Operation Centre (IOC) at Thromde Veterinary Hospital in Phuentsholing with the Rapid Response Team (RRT) from different ministries and agencies for immediate containment and response to the outbreak.

A press release from the ministry states, “As the disease is brought under control at the source of outbreak the public should not panic. The public is also advised to take precautions like washing of hands after handling poultry, chicken and eggs with soap and water.”

Program director of NCAH, Dr RB Gurung, the focal person of bird flu said the outbreak was reported in the field on April 6.

He said the outbreak is under control by about 80 percent yesterday. As the outbreak location was at the outskirt of town, there were not much vehicles plying, which made it easier, he added.

The response team also created awareness in the community. Vehicles plying out of the demarcated infected and restricted zone are also disinfected.

Dr RB Gurung said poultry farmers are cautioned to comply farm bio-security measures and not allow visitors into the farms without proper safety measures.

“We need to observe the outbreak area for one month,” Dr RB Gurung said.

The department of livestock, Chukha dzongkhag livestock sector, department of public health, Royal Bhutan Police, Bhutan Agriculture and Food Regulatory Authority and the Regional Livestock Development Centre Tsimasham and local authorities in Phuentsholing have initiated the response to the H5NI outbreak jointly.

Rajesh Rai  | Phuentsholing