Delhi, October 22: The next major epidemic seems to have struck Delhi. Amid growing fears of bird flu spreading outside the Delhi zoo, Department of animal husbandry has reported another shocker on Saturday. Avian Influenza or bird flu has killed  17 ducks in the Central Park and  Hauz Khas regions of Delhi. This comes just days after the Delhi government had confirmed that at least 10 birds were found dead in the city over the past 4 days.

Out of the original 10 birds that were killed, 5 were located in the  deer park in south Delhi’s Hauz Khas. This had prompted the government to close the park to visitors. this is in addition to the Delhi zoo that has been shut since Tuesday following the confirmation that the zoo had been hit by H5N1, or avian influenza. The confirmation came after 4 to 5 birds, that had died earlier in the zoo, were tested for the disease.  (ALSO READ: Bird Flu: Delhi Government assures regular monitoring, says don’t be scared  )

So far the deaths also include three crows that were found dead  in Sundar Nagar (1km from the Delhi zoo), one bird from Asola Bhatti sanctuary in Tughlaqabad (possibly migratory), three ducks from the deer park and two more migratory birds. Commenting on the developments, Delhi development minister Gopal Rai said, “We’ve asked for the park to be closed indefinitely and find out if more deaths are taking place.” However, Rai said that there was absolutely no need to panic. reiterating this, gopal Rai added,  “But people should be alert about birds dying in their localities. One should not venture near bird carcasses and immediately report any death to the helpline (011-23890318) being run by the state.”

According to the animal husbandry department, however, said that the death of three crows in Sunder Nagar raises suspicions about the disease spreading beyond the zoo and sanctuaries and infecting indigenous birds, but any alert on this would be issued only after test results come in. Staff in the animal husbandry department have been working in full force with all their leaves cancelled in view of the current situation. The tests for bird flu are being conducted to a Jalandhar-based lab.

A senior official of the department has said, “We have constituted 10 rapid response teams besides forming a 23-member team headed by development commissioner Sandeep Kumar for better coordination between departments. Apart from this, 10 municipal corporation teams have been kept in reserve for any crisis. Civic bodies have been asked to maintain cleanliness at dump yards near chicken and poultry farms.” He added that chicken wholesale markets and poultry farms have been asked to report any dead birds and keep their area clean. The government claims that the  Tamiflu tablet which is used for treating bird flu in humans has been stocked up.