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As authorities take measures to control the spread of bird flu, egg and poultry consumption has gone down in some parts of the country where the outbreak of the virus has been reported.

Traders have said that although there is no effect on the farm, their sales have diminished over the past few days.

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"The reports of bird flu are associated with migratory birds. But, there is a situation of panic and our work is being affected," said Navdeep Singh, a trader from Himachal Pradesh.

According to reports, 3,031 birds have been reported dead in the state until Thursday.

Ban on sale, transport

First reported in Rajasthan over the last weekend, the bird flu, also called avian influenza, has reached Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh, Haryana and Gujarat.

Preventive measures in several states include a ban on the sale or transport of poultry products.

Kerala announced earlier on Wednesday that sale of poultry, meat and eggs will not be allowed in the affected areas for the next 10 days, after declaring the outbreak as a state-specific disaster.

"The H5N8 virus, which causes bird flu, is not transmitted to humans. But genetic mutations can happen. The vigil will continue for 10 days in districts that reported bird flu. Ban on sale of poultry, meat and eggs will continue in affected areas," said Kerala Animal Husbandry Minister K Raju.

After official reports confirmed bird flu as the cause of mass death of crows in Mandsaur and Agar Malwa districts and Indore, transport of chicken consignments from southern states was banned in Madhya Pradesh.

"Bird flu symptoms were found in chickens in Kerala and other southern states. Therefore, we have decided that no chicken from these states will be allowed to enter Madhya Pradesh for the next 10 days," said MP Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan.

"We are keeping an eye on Bird flu and have issued the guideline for poultry farms," he added.

The director of Animal Husbandry Department in the state confirmed on Thursday that birds in poultry shops in Neemuch and Indore were found positive for avian flu.

Following the detection, the government ordered closure of all poultry shops in the area for a week. District authorities also been asked to collect samples of migratory birds from near water bodies and send them to Bhopal for testing.

Up north, the Jammu and Kashmir government also banned the import of poultry after several birds, mostly crows, were found dead in mysterious circumstances in Panj Peer area of Rajouri town.

Testing of random samples was carried out in the Union Territory. "We are taking random samples and will send it to our testing lab in Jalandhar. We have advised poultry farmers to take care of sanitisation and to not touch birds bare-handed," said a veterinarian.

In Delhi, Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia asked officials to keep a close watch on poultry birds coming in from neighbouring states.

Precautionary guidelines

The Centre on Wednesday issued advisories to contain further spread of the infection. Several states followed suit.

The Yogi Adityanath-led government in Uttar Pradesh issued an advisory citing bird flu scare for all the districts in the state on Thursday. Instructions have been given to all districts that the water reservoirs of birds drinking water should be monitored.

Following this, poultry traders in the state reported a decline in their business. "Since 3 January, from when the flu was officially declared as detected, the sales have dropped by around 30%. The prices have also fallen," said a chicken trader from Lucknow.

On the other hand, trade in Karnataka remained unscathed by a similar advisory in the state. The Dakshina Kannada district reported six crow deaths on Thursday, after which samples were sent for testing and precautionary measures were taken.

But traders said that there is no evident impact being seen by them. "There is no such effect on the business here in Karnataka. We have heard of the flu outbreak in other states, but here it is still fine," said a trader.

While reports of revenue loss due to the outbreak in the fast-growing sector are yet to come out, the central government has asked states to quell consumer reactions affected by rumours and increase awareness regarding the safety of poultry to minimise any possible dent.


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