More than 250 crows have reportedly been found dead in 15 districts of Rajasthan Credit: Representational image

Panic around the dreaded avian influenza in now spreading across the country after hundreds of birds were found dead in Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh and Kerala, forcing the state governments to sound bird flu alert and order culling in affected areas.

The bird flu, or avian influenza, is a highly infectious and severe respiratory disease in birds caused by H5N1 influenza, which can spread to human beings and turn fatal.

The Kerala government has sounded high alert after bird flu cases were reported in Kottayam and Alappuzha districts.

The administration has also reportedly ordered the culling of thousands of ducks, hens and other domestic birds within one-kilometre radius of the affected areas, after cases were reported from Nedumudi, Thakazhy, Pallippad and Karuvatta. To preen the spreading of the infection, the birds will be burnt or buried.

The situation is even more alarming in Himachal Pradesh, where over 2,400 migratory water birds have reportedly been found dead so far. Notably, almost half of the dead birds were reportedly the endangered bar-headed goose visiting the Pong wetlands. The other species found dead were the shoveler, the river tern, the pochard and the common teal. Himachal Pradesh wildlife authorities have confirmed avian influenza (H5N1) as the cause.

The Rajasthan government confirmed avian influenza in crows that died in Jhalawar district last week. More than 250 crows have reportedly been found dead in 15 districts in the state. The state hasn’t ordered any culling of the birds so far.

The Madhya Pradesh government, meanwhile, reportedly sounded bird flu alert after 400 dead crows were found in Indore, Mandsaur, Agar-Malwa, Khargone and Sehore. The state has sent carcass samples for testing before ordering culling of birds.

In Gujarat, 53 aquatic birds, including herons and comb ducks were reportedly found dead on the bank of Kharo reservoir in Manavadar taluka of Junagadh district on Sunday. The administration has taken the samples and sent them for testing.

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