New Delhi: With the death toll of migratory water birds rising to 2401 in Himachal Pradesh, the Kangra District Magistrate on Monday issued order, completely prohibiting sale/purchase/export of any poultry/birds/fish of any breed/age and their related products (eggs, meat, chicken etc) in Fatehpur, Dehra, Jawali & Indora areas of Kangra.Also Read - Shocking! 80% Women in THESE South Indian States Justify Men Beating Their Wives: Survey

Issuing the order, the district administration said no movement of humans shall be allowed within one km radius of Pong Dam or alert zone declared by Kangra district administration. Also Read - 6th Pay Commission: THIS State Announces New Pay Scales For Its Employees. Check Details Inside

“For the last 3-4 days, there has been large-scale mortality among bar-headed goose (migratory birds). As per the latest records, around 2401 birds have died in the last few days,” Dr Vikram Singh, a senior veterinary pathologist of State Animal Husbandry Department, said. Also Read - 11 IFS Officers at Dehradun’s FRI Old Hostel, 6 People in Tibetans Colony Test COVID Positive, 2 Areas Declared Containment Zone

Of the dead birds, almost half of them are endangered bar-headed goose visiting the Pong wetlands. Confirming the news, Himachal Pradesh wildlife authorities on Monday said that avian influenza (H5N1) was the cause.

The dead included a little white-fronted goose that was visiting the Pong wetlands alone for the past three years.

Principal Chief Conservator Forest, Wildlife, Archana Sharma told IANS that 628 dead birds were found in the Pong catchment area on Monday. “With them, the total number of birds that lost their lives rose to 2,401.”

A communication of the ICAR-National Institute of High Security Animal Diseases (NIHSAD) based in Bhopal said all the five birds sent it tested positive for H5N1 avian influenza virus by real time RT-PCR tests.

Chief Conservator Wildlife of Pong wetlands — one of the largest in northern India, Upasna Patyal, told IANS that carcasses had been sent to different laboratories to determine the cause of death.

The local administration has already sounded an alert by banning all the human activities within 10-km radius of the Pong wetlands in Kangra district. Besides the bar-headed goose, the other species were the shoveler, the river tern, the pochard and the common teal.

Some birds — including the bar-headed goose — were seen acting strangely before their deaths, Patyal said.

The bird carcasses were sent to the Indian Veterinary Research Institute in Bareilly, the Regional Disease Diagnostic Laboratory in Jalandhar and the Wildlife Institute of India in Dehradun to know their cause of death.

The Rajasthan government last week sounded an alert after confirmation of avian influenza in crows that died in Jhalawar district. Indore in Madhya Pradesh has also reported death of crows.

The mass mortality of poultry birds was reported at one of the largest poultry belt at Barwala near Panchkula in Haryana.

According to the Bird Count India, a partnership comprising organizations and groups, over the past seven to 10 days, there have been reports of wild birds dying in separate incidents at different locations in the country.

Every winter, the Pong wetlands are home to over 100,000 birds of 114 species. Among them the bar-headed goose, the northern pintail, the Eurasian coot, the common teal, the common pochard, the northern shoveler, the great cormorant, the Eurasian wigeon and the ruddy shelduck are notable.

Apart from Himachal, an outbreak of bird flu has been reported from some parts of Kottayam and Alappuzha districts in Kerala, prompting authorities to order the culling of ducks, hens, etc in one kilometre radius of the affected areas.

Bird flu is a highly infectious and severe respiratory disease in birds caused by the H5N1 influenza virus, which can occasionally infect humans as well.