Telangana's poultry industry is coping with the impact of H5N1 influenza (Avian or Bird Flu) and hoping the damage has been contained.
Since the National Institute of High Security Animal Diseases, Bhopal, confirmed the virus in the samples sent to it from the affected region, close to 1.5 lakh birds have been culled with the active involvement of the Telangana Animal Husbandry department.
The epicentre of bird flu has been in and around Thorrur village in Hayathnagar in the Ranga Reddy district on the outskirts of Hyderabad.
The biggest concern is that there is no clarity on what caused the outbreak of the virus.
Estimates of the exact damage suffered by the industry vary but already birds have been culled in five farms in and around the epicentre and losses are said to be close to Rs 3 crore already.
"There has been a 30 to 40 per cent drop in demand (for chicken and eggs) in the affected regions in the last two to three days," says G.B. Sundararajan, Managing Director, Suguna Foods, which has its poultry farms and operates in 16 states across the country.
Sundararajan, who also heads the All India Poultry Breeders Association and is a member of several state level poultry organisations, says summer holidays are usually a high consumer demand season as against November and December when demand tends to slow down.
He feels the problem has been contained and hopes to see demand pick up again in the next few days.
He says there could be several factors ranging from use of contaminated plastic poultry crates, issues with feed or when workers move from one farm to another and have some country birds at home and do not follow best practices.
"Any lapse in bio-security can cause this," he says, adding that the industry, as a whole, is more vigilant today and it is for the first time that such an outbreak has happened in this region in the organised sector.
On the estimated losses of around Rs 3 crore and what it means for the industry, Sundararajan says it is limited mainly to the farms that have been directly affected in the region and has not yet impacted the industry.
He says the loss is still small for the Rs 55,000-crore industry.
Meanwhile, officials from the Telangana Animal Husbandry department told Business Today they, along with a team of about 20 scientists, are undertaking surveillance in a 10-kilometer radius of the affected region and inspecting all the farms.