A suspected Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (H5N1) outbreak was detected on 29 December last year on a lone poultry farm in Lhamoizingkha under Dagana.
Farm Gaon located about 2.5 kms away from Lhamoizingkha town is prominent for rearing mixed types of birds like ducks, pigeons, geese, chicken. And often, wild birds predominantly Egrets and poultry birds are seen feeding together.
The National Centre for Animal Health (NCAH) received two carcasses and five swabs samples on 29 December. Tissue samples from one of the carcass and a swab tested positive to H5N1 by real time Reverse Transcriptase Polymerase Chain Reaction.
“We confirmed the H5N1 out break on 30 December,” Dr. Kinzang said. He added that the officials had to demolish the poultry farm instantly in order to prevent flu spreading in other farm.
The Incident Operation Centre(IOC) were mobilized at Lhamoizingkha, with the instruction to take on instant disease control and containment measures as per the National Influenza Preparedness Plan and Standard Operating Procedures. This was soon as the samples were detected positive.
Awareness programs and disinfection around the affected locale were initiated to control further spread. The movement of poultry related products and members of the affected household have also been restricted for safety.
The definite source of the outbreak is not known but the owner of the affected poultry farm Passang told the officials that there has been a death of single Myna about a month ago in his farm.
After 12 days of the Myna’s death in the region birds in Passang’s poultry farm began to fall sick and eventually started to die from 16 December onwards.
The affected poultry owner reported the bird mortality cases to the livestock extension centre (LEC) on 27 December which was confirmed positive through a rapid test. There was also an incidence where ten birds died in the neighborhood but this was not reported to LEC.
The rapid response team of the Bhutan Agriculture and Food Regulatory Authority (BAFRA) has been activated for a 3D operation (depopulation, decontamination and disposal) the team depopulated 76 birds on the evening of 30 December, a day after the outbreak. The surveillance team in and around has been deployed for early detection of disease. As of now, no further cases have been reported.
According to a report presented during the National Incident Command Committee meeting on 3 January, the collective mortality from 19 to 30 December is 46 where clinical signs such as droopiness, whitish diarrhea, cyanotic comb were noticed.
There are five other households approximately 50 meters away from the affected household with a total of 93 birds in the immediate locality, all of which are local and free ranging birds. There is a broiler farm with around 200 birds about 2 kms away from the outbreak point. In total, poultry population in neighboring village is 485 where the situation is entirely under control.
Therefore a strong strategy will be in place to control sudden outbreak and Dzongkhag people may also be included during such outbreak. The concerned officials also felt the need to improve the disease reporting system and awareness programs among the general public.
The Ministry had already issued a public notification to remind the public not to be alarmed as the necessary control measures are already put in place but the genuine need of the general public to extend possible supports and cooperation during the implementation of Bird Flu control activities is of utmost importance.
Meanwhile, a team comprising officials from health, disaster management, livestock, BAFRA, finance and police will soon visit the outbreak areas to understand the actual situation and accordingly come up with the recommendations for future reference. Farm Gaon under Dagana Dzongkhag is about 2.5 kms and at a distance of about 100 meters from the farm road that connects the town and Sibsoni village.
The positive sample has been referred to Bhopal for further confirmation as per the World Organization for Animal Health standards.