After a probable bird flu outbreak at Yangbari, Mongar, a sample which was suspected positive has been sent to St Jude Centre for Excellence in Influenza Research and Surveillance, USA by National Center for Animal Health in Serbithang, Thimphu.
One sample among 17 from birds and pigs was suspected positive to Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) H5N1 through real time reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction (rRT-PCR) but the rest confirmed negative. However no bird deaths have been reported as of now. According to the Deputy Chief Veterinary Officer of National Center for Animal Health, Dr N Dahal, as soon as the said sample tested positive, rapid response teams from the Regional Livestock Development Centre (RLDC), Kanglung were deputed to the suspected outbreak area for response activities. The team undertook an intense surveillance in the suspected outbreak area, decontaminated the suspected household and created awareness in the locality including schools, project areas, the general public and the farmers.The rapid response team also included personnel from he health ministry who undertook surveillance for influenza-like illnesses in the community.
Besides them, Basic Health Unit (BHU) personnel and a medical doctor from Nganglam hospital were fully involved in surveillance and awareness creation.
The surveillance team under the supervision of the Regional Veterinary Officer, RLDC, Kanglung is still active and keeping vigilance over the area.
“We are keeping strict vigilance including clinical as well as laboratory surveillance in the area”, Dr N Dahal said.
The World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) report states that this year alone, a total of 11 outbreaks have been reported in the country. Of these, Chhukha district has experienced more HPAI findings than other districts.
The government of Bhutan is taking measures such as quarantine, movement control, clean-up and disinfection of the contaminated premises, and culling.
The report states that as of 20th April, the 11 outbreaks in Bhutan involved 7,133 birds, of which 370 died and 5,642 were culled.
However the presence of theH5N1sub-type virus has been confirmed in each outbreak.