Bird flu suspected in Meghalaya

Fears of bird flu gripped Shillong Friday and Meghalaya state authorities sounded a general alert after a hundred pigeons were found dead in the state capital, an official said.

The pigeons have died over a month at Keating Road in the heart of Shillong City, and Thursday three more pigeons died of unnatural deaths, said Animal and Husbandry Veterinary director D. Lyngwa.

The deaths of pigeons surfaced after 19 days, when a rapid response team completed disinfection operations in bird flu-hit area of East Garo Hills district.

Altogether, 6,538 birds including domesticated fowls were culled, 9,157 eggs and more than 800 kg of feeds were destroyed in 21 villages in East Garo Hills, after the Bhopal-based High Security Animal Disease Laboratory declared the birds were infected with  H5N1 virus.

"We have sent the blood samples of the pigeons Friday morning for testing at Assam-based Regional Research and Diagnostic Laboratory (RRDL). The results are awaited," Lyngwa told IANS.

He added: "We have not decided to impose any restriction on consumption as we are yet to confirm exact cause of deaths of the birds in the area. But if the test proves positive, we will impose restrictions."

District authorities in East Khasi Hills have sounded a general alert after the unnatural deaths of pigeons in Keating Road.

“The district administration has taken all precautionary measures and rapid response team has been geared up to take action in case the laboratory confirms bird flu,” said Sanjay Goyal, the chief administrator of East Khasi Hills.

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