Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Ranchi crows hit by mysterious epidemic

Ranchi crows hit by mysterious epidemic
The mysterious disease that has caused the death of hundreds of crows has reached Ranchi with dozens of crows falling off trees and dying in a particular locality in the heart of the city over the last two days.

Scores of crows have been found dead in the premises of St Mary's Cathedral on Purulia Road, giving rise to a wave of speculation and panic over the unusual happening. The crows fall off their resting places and die within hours, observers said. "More than two dozen crows have died so far. They drop from the trees and die a slow and painful death. Once they drop, they are unable to fly again," Paulus Lakda, caretaker of the church, said.

The first incident of bird drop was witnessed two months back and now its frequency has risen after the sudden drop in temperature in the last two days. "The staff and students at the church have been playing with crows since October but the numbers have increased over the last two days" Emanuel Khalkho, catechist of the church, said.

Staff working in the Church for the last several years has never seen such a phenomenon. The first spate of such deaths occurred at Jubilee Park in Jamshedpur in September. Hundreds of crows died due to a mysterious disease during this period.

"It is an unknown viral disease whose vector is not known yet. The resting site of the crows provides favourable conditions for the virus to spread," KK Sharma, a renowned environmentalist and head of department of zoology at Co-operative College Jamshedpur, said.

A team from Bhopal visiting Jamshedpur has speculated that if the dead crows come in contact with human beings, this disease may take the form of an epidemic. "A similar phenomenon had come to light in North America two years ago. It was named the Neel Virus," Nitish Priyadarshi, an environmentalist in Ranchi, said. Though the visiting team of environmentalists from Bhopal in Jamshedpur has named the virus HN1H, the confusion regarding the naming persists among authorities in the State.

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