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DAILY NEWS ANALYSIS

  • 05 January, 2021

  • 13 Min Read

Bird Flu in India

Bird Flu in India

  • Kerala was placed on high alert on Monday after an outbreak of bird flu was confirmed in Kottayam and Alappuzha districts.
  • The presence of the H5N8 subtype of the Influenza A virus was reported in ducks in Thalavadi, Thakazhy, Pallipad and Karuvatta in Alappuzha district and Neendoor in Kottayam district.
  • The Alappuzha district authorities have decided to cull birds within a 1 km radius of the infected areas.
  • While it can prove lethal for birds, the H5N8 strain of avian influenza has a lower likelihood of spreading to humans compared to H5N1.

About Bird Flu

  • Bird flu, also known as Avian influenza (AI), is a highly contagious viral disease affecting several species of food-producing birds (chickens, turkeys, quails, guinea fowl, etc.) as well as pet birds and wild birds.
  • Occasionally mammals, including humans, may contract avian influenza.

Types of Bird Flu:

  • Influenza viruses are grouped into three types; A, B, and C. Only type A is known to infect animals and is zoonotic, meaning it can infect animals and also humans. Type B and C mostly infect humans and typically cause mild disease.
  • Avian influenza virus subtypes include A(H5N1), A(H7N9), and A(H9N2).
  • Influenza viruses are classified into subtypes based on two surface proteins, Hemagglutinin (HA) and Neuraminidase (NA). For example, a virus that has an HA 7 protein and NA 9 protein is designated as subtype H7N9.
  • Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) A(H5N1) virus occurs mainly in birds and is highly contagious among them.
  • HPAI Asian H5N1 is especially deadly for poultry.

Can the virus transfer to humans?

  • There are no known cases of H5N8 in human beings. Risk to general public is very low.
  • There is also no evidence that consumption of poultry meat or eggs could transmit the virus to humans.
  • But necessary precautions are required while handling sick/dead birds and contaminated material during control and containment operations.
  • It is considered safe to eat properly cooked poultry products.

Control measures:

  • Culling is usually undertaken to control the infection when it is detected in animals. Besides culling, safe disposal of all such culled animals and animal products is also important.
  • The authorities also need to strictly enforce decontamination of infected premises and undertake quarantine of contaminated vehicles and personnel.

Impact:

  • Avian Influenza outbreaks can lead to devastating consequences for the country, particularly the poultry industry.
  • Farmers might experience a high level of mortality in their flocks, with rates often around 50%.

India’s Status:

  • Previously in 2019, India was declared free from Avian Influenza (H5N1), which had also been notified to the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE).
  • The status will last only till another outbreak is reported.

Source: TH


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