The outbreak of bird flu, Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (H5N1), Kalapani village in Gomtu, Samtse is now under control with no new cases.

The outbreak was reported on March 17.

Department of Livestock’s  (DoL) spokesperson, Kinzang Dukpa (PhD), who is the programme director with NCAH, said the Incident Operation Centre (IOC) comprising of officials from DoL, BAFRA, Ministry of Health, Samtse dzongkhag administration, RBP, RSTA and local officials worked round the clock to contain the disease in Kalapani and to prevent spread to other areas of Samtse and other parts of the country.

“So far, no human cases have been reported and the health officials are closely working with livestock officials,” he said.

Padam Bahadur Katwal, owner of a poultry farm at Kalapani, reported deaths of poultry birds in his farm to the in-charge of livestock extension centre in Gomtu. Livestock officials from Samtse veterinary hospital and Gomtu livestock extension centre investigated the case on March 18.

It was found that from March 16 to 18, a total of 265 poultry (185 improved layers and 80 local) birds had died at the farm.

Poultry carcasses were transported to the Thromde Veterinary Hospital and Satellite Laboratory in Phuentsholing and tests were carried out. They test positive for Avian Influenza A but negative for H5.

By March 19, a total of 323 birds had died of the disease. The Regional Livestock Development Centre (RLDC) at Tsimasham Chukha transported the poultry carcasses to the NCAH at Serbithang. The birds were tested using PCR at NCAH and it was confirmed that the disease was HPAI H5N1 on March 20, 2018.

In line with the National Influenza Pandemic Preparedness Plan (NIPPP), the National Incident Command Committee (NICC) directed the activation of the IOC on March 21 to be based at Samtse veterinary hospital to undertake disease containment measures, including culling of at-risk birds, disinfection of poultry sheds and regulating movement of poultry, among others.

Kinzang Dukpa (PhD) also said that the IOC culled a total 213 poultry birds from a farm at Kalapani village on the night of March 21.

Under the technical supervision and support of NICC, the IOC is implementing various control measures such as depopulation of poultry that are at high risk of getting infected, strict movement control of people, poultry and poultry products originating from the affected area, and disinfection of vehicles entering Samtse from India.

On March 22, agriculture ministry also banned import of live poultry birds to Bhutan until further notice.

This is the 12th outbreak of HPAI H5N1 in the country since the first outbreak in February 2010 at Rinchending, Phuentsholing, Chukha.

H5N1is found to be very lethal with 100 percent mortality.

Rajesh Rai | Gomtu