Birds in Gwalior zoo died of H5N8 infection: Officials

New Delhi:Analysis of samples collected from two of the around 15 painted storks that died in the zoological park here, revealed the avians were infected with a new bird flu virus subtype, H5N8, a top official said on Saturday.

Around 15 painted storks in the zoo died in the last few days, prompting the authorities concerned to send their samples for testing for bird flu virus.

“The analysis of samples collected from two painted storks (out of the around 15 storks that died in the zoo in the last few days), conducted by the Bhopal-based High Security Animal Disease Laboratory, found the birds were infected with H5N8 virus,” Gwalior district Collector Sanjay Goyal told PTI.

To a query on whether the other 12 painted storks, which are still alive in the zoo, will be culled in view of the bird flu situation, Goyal said the municipal authorities, the forest department and Central Zoo Authority officials are holding talks over the measures to be taken to control the spread of the virus.

“A close watch is also being kept on the poultry farms and birds around the zoo that have been closed for visitors since yesterday,” Goyal said.

Gwalior Municipal Corporation Commissioner Anay Dwivedi said the zoo currently houses around 300 avians of different species.

“The zoo staffers have been given gloves and as well as tamiflu (an antiviral medication),” he said, adding spraying of disinfectants in the zoo is on.

Meanwhile, sources said some groups working for bird and animal protection have written a petition to different ministries in Delhi to block a possible move of bird culling in Gwalior.

A constant vigil is being kept around the National Zoological Parks to monitor and contain the H5 avian influenza along with the state agencies. The Delhi government has shut the Hauz Khas Deer Park amid bird flu scare. It has also cancelled leaves of all officials of Delhi Animal Husbandry Department.