Bird deaths caused by salmonella poisoning


Veterinary experts gather the carcases of dead birds found in the vicinity of the Hambegamuwa tank, in Thanamalwila. Bird flu has been ruled out.

Health authorities have advised residents of villages in Thanamalwila to boil water for drinking purposes and avoid bathing in the Hambegamuwa tank, following last week’s discovery of dozens of dead, sick and dying birds in the tank’s vicinity.

Shortly after the veterinary experts launched investigations in Thanamalwila, reports started coming in of birds dying in the vicinity of the Handapangala tank, in Wellawaya.

Veterinary investigation officers working in Thanamalwila and Badulla have conducted initial tests. Meanwhile, specimens of dead birds have been sent to the Veterinary Research Institute for further investigations.

After initial tests, the institute ruled out the possibility of bird flu and said the birds had died of salmonella poisoning. “There have been outbreaks of salmonella poisoning in the past, and hundreds of birds died,” said Dr. A. Chandrasoma, director, Animal Health Department, Veterinary Research Institute.

Incidents of mass bird deaths were reported in 2007 from Nikaweratiya and Galgamuwa. Dr. Chandrasoma said the deaths could have been caused by natural phenomena arising during bird breeding times.

Meanwhile, Veterinary Research Institute is on the alert for any signs of bird flu, with a continuous bird flu surveillance programme islandwide.

The institute is being extra vigilant in areas where migratory birds are known to gather. Villagers living around the Hambegamuwa tank, Thanamalwila, say they are relieved the bird deaths were not the result of bird flu, but they are concerned about the impact of salmonella poisoning on humans.

Published on SundayTimes 05.07.2009 –

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