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Amid the scare of bird flu, the alarm sounded in J-K

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Jammu: As bird flu cases were registered by neighboring Himachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir sounded an alarm and began collecting samples to check the health of winged guests flocking during the winters in the Union territory, officials said.

On Tuesday, the joint teams of the Departments of Animal Husbandry and Wildlife visited Gharana wetland in the outskirts of Jammu and collected 25 bird droppings for testing to decide if any of the birds was contaminated with the dreaded avian influenza, officials said.

Following reports of bird flu cases in Himachal Pradesh, the J&K government has sounded a warning and issued certain guidelines as a precautionary measure, to Wildlife Warden, Jammu, Anil Atri to PTI

Atri, who joined the animal husbandry team at the Gharana wetland with Dr Ranjit Katoch of the Wildlife Department, said that all the birds present in the wetland looked safe.

Gharana Wetland Conservation Reserve was notified in 1981 in the R S Pura sector near the International Border and is home to over 170 bird species such as bar-headed geese, gadwalls, common teals, purple swamp hens, Indian moor hens, black-winged stelts, cormorants, egrets and green shanks.

Thousands of birds from Central Asia visit the wetland during the winter and some of the migratory bird species visiting this wetland are endangered.

The Animal Husbandry Department team, Jammu, collected the bird dropping samples for testing, he said, adding that there is no need for alarm as this is being done only as a precautionary measure to keep the wetlands healthy and check the spread of the H5N8 virus in view of confirmed cases in HP, Rajasthan, Kerala and Madhya Pradesh.

In compliance with government guidelines, we have alerted our workers and the public to avoid handling any animal with symptoms and to wear proper personal protective kits.

They were also asked to immediately report if they noticed any improvement in the behaviour of the birds, said Atri.

Asked about the number of birds present at the wetland, he said the figure fluct between 1000 and 2000

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