Finally, after over a month-long wait, tourist parks in the national capital, which were shut due to the bird flu scare, are all set to reopen. The move has been welcomed by the residents as winter is setting in, a time when people gather in huge numbers in open areas to get some sunlight.
The Department of Animal Husbandry has declared South Delhi’s Deer Park, District Park in Paschim Vihar and Shakti Sthal safe. Samples collected from all these places tested negative for the influenza virus. Delhi zoo, however, is yet to reopen as a Black-Necked Stork was found dead on its premises on November 28.
“We have written a letter to the Government of India, asking the officials concerned to give a final approval for the plan. The samples collected from these places have tested negative for the influenza virus,” said Dr HC Dandotiya, District Animal Husbandry Officer, Delhi government. “Once we get the final approval, we will reopen these places for the public,” he added.
Meanwhile, the government officials said it may take over a month to reopen the zoo. “First, the bird deaths need to stop. Then we will collect samples for up to 45 days. If all the samples return negative, the zoo can be reopened. As per the action plan, a 90-day period of testing is required. But since this is a weaker strain, we will wait for 45 days and examine the situation thereafter,” said an Animal Husbandry official.
Delhi’s birding sites had come under the scanner after cases of bird flu surfaced in October. As many as 80 birds were reported dead at the Ghazipur Murga Mandi, Shakti Sthal, Hauz Khas Deer Park and the District Park in Paschim Vihar. Except the Ghazipur Mandi, all other parks are still shut.
Following the deaths, a team of scientists from the National Institute of Virology (NIV), Pune, collected samples, and sensitised and trained the staffers about bio-security measures against the avian influenza
Most avian influenza viruses do not infect humans. Some such as A(H5N1) and A(H7N9), however, have caused serious infections in people. Majority of human cases of A(H5N1) and A(H7N9) infection have been associated with direct or indirect contact with infected live or dead poultry.
Earlier in May this year, the state government of Karnataka had culled more than 1.3 lakh at a farm in the Kidar district. In Haryana, culling of over 100 ducks in Chandigarh’s Sukhna Lake was ordered in December 2014, after samples indicated the presence of the H5N1 virus in some of the birds.