Wednesday, October 19, 2016

India: New Delhi Zoological Park Closed Due To Suspected H5N1


Overnight media have reported the temporary closing of New Delhi's Zoological Park due to the deaths of 9 birds, reportedly due to H5N1. The 176 acre park - established in 1959 - lies in the heart of the nation's capital. 
This comes barely more than a month after India declared itself free of H5N1, with the last reported outbreak in Karnataka last May.
 A visit to the Zoological Park's website finds no mention of the outbreak, or the closing of the park. The park has been plagued with problems in recent years, including a rabies outbreak earlier this year, and the death of a visitor who fell into a white tiger enclosure in 2014. 

We have several reports, with this first from the Associated Press.

New Delhi's zoo has been closed temporarily after nine birds died from suspected bird flu last week, a zoo official said Wednesday.

Autopsies conducted on the birds confirmed that at least two of them died from H5N1 avian influenza, said Riaz Ahmed Khan, the National Zoological Park's curator.

"We decided to close the zoo for a few days as a precautionary measure," Khan said, adding that the zoo would reopen next week.
He said the birds, including some ducks and two pelicans, died Friday and Saturday.

(Continue . . .)

The Times of India has a similar report (see Delhi zoo shuts down indefinitely amid bird flu scare), as does The Indian Express (see
Each of these reports contains the somewhat dubious reassurance from officials that `the influenza will not affect humans and the shutting down of zoo premises was a precautionary measure'.

Although India has yet to report a human infection from H5N1, more than a dozen other countries have.  Whether India's good fortune in this regard is due to a different - less virulent - clade of the virus, or a deficit in testing and reporting is up for debate.  

In any event, with the fall migration season upon us, we'll be watching for additional outbreaks in India over the coming months.

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