Bird flu ‘unlikely’ among pet avians; Maharashtra prepares for outbreak, if any | Mumbai News

THANE: Recent as yet unexplained bird deaths in Mumbai Metropolitan Region have pet owners worried. Experts, though, say chances of bird flu among pet avians are low.
Meanwhile, the state animal husbandry department said on Saturday there has been no bird flu death in Maharashtra so far, but it has started preparations to tackle any possible outbreak. Crucial autopsy reports from National Institute of High Security Animal Diseases (NIHSAD) in Bhopal were still awaited, said officials.
Veterinarians admitted to getting anxious calls from pet owners and assuaged their fears saying infection among pet birds is unlikely and have advised them to simply follow precautions.
Pet owner Mandira Sawant of Kurla said, “I used to keep my two love birds near the window to bask in early morning sun but now have started to avoid it. Oddly, nowadays, they themselves refrain from being kept there and start calling out as if to move them,” said
“As of now, I have kept our African grey parrot, a conure and a cockatiel in a bedroom and away from the window. I also regularly spray a disinfectant at home, even when someone comes from outside,” said Saket Ghag of Borivli.
Prominent symptoms in infected birds include coughing, sneezing and diarrhoea, said experts.
“Waterfowl birds are carriers of the infection, which gets transmitted to other birds when they migrate as they shed droplets and faecal matter in the air. So, birds that come in contact with these can get infected,” said Dr Rina Dev, an avian and exotic birds specialist. “As pet birds are indoors, they are safe as of now. Also, at this moment, one should refrain from buying pet birds,” added Dr Dev.
State officials reserved commenting further on the bird flu issue till NIHSAD reports are released. “Our team of doctors is trained to handle carcasses of birds, conduct autopsy and mass culling if any outbreak is reported here. There is no confirmed bird flu death in the state yet but we are taking all precautions to ensure our staff is equipped to handle any emergency situation,” said a senior bureaucrat.
Two bird deaths, of a pond heron and a parakeet, were reported in Thane city on Saturday, the municipal veterinary department announced.

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