Dharamsala, Jan 8 (IANS) Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur said on Friday that authorities were monitoring the migratory birds at the Pong Dam and adjoining areas and set up quick reaction teams to contain bird flu.
Thakur said that 65 teams of the Animal Husbandry and the Wildlife Departments were regularly monitoring the situation.
Presiding over a review meeting here on the ways to control avian influenza reported in the Pong wetlands this week, he said that 3,410 migratory birds have so far died of the flu.
Officials told IANS that 90 per cent of the dead birds were endangered bar-headed geese.
The infected birds have been buried as per the health protocol to prevent the spread of the virus.
Samples of poultry have also been sent to the Regional Disease Diagnostic Laboratory in Jalandhar in neighbouring Punjab.
A communication from the ICAR-National Institute of High Security Animal Diseases in Bhopal in Madhya Pradesh said that all five birds sent by the Himachal government had tested positive for H5N1 avian influenza virus by real-time RT-PCR tests.
Besides the bar-headed geese, other affected species were the Shoveller, River Tern, Pochard and Common Teal.
Every winter, the Pong wetlands offer home to over 1,00,000 birds of 114 species, including the Bar-Headed Geese, Northern Pintail, Eurasian Coot, Common Teal, Common Pochard, Northern Shoveller, Great Cormorant, Eurasian Wigeon, and Ruddy Shelduck.
According to the Bombay Natural History Society, the Pong wetlands are one of the wintering grounds across the world to hold such a large congregation of Bar-Headed Geese.