Bird Flu: Centre issues advisory, asks states to step up vigil amid suspected spread of avian influenza virus

States have been asked to take up surveillance and monitoring of birds for any signs of the disease and take appropriate measures for controlling it on priority

Press Trust of India January 07, 2021 07:55:16 IST
Bird Flu: Centre issues advisory, asks states to step up vigil amid suspected spread of avian influenza virus

Health workers in protective suits cull ducks after the H5N8 bird flu strain was detected, in Karuvatta of Alapuzha district some 90 Kms from Kochi on 6 January, 2021. AP

New Delhi: The Centre on Wednesday said Avian Influenza, or the bird flu outbreak, has been reported at 12 epicentres in four states — Kerala, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Himachal Pradesh — and advisories have been issued to contain further spread of the infection in poultry ducks, crows and migratory birds.

In a statement, the Union Ministry of Fisheries, Animal Husbandry, and Dairying said that other states have been asked to keep a vigil on any unusual mortality amongst birds.

The current bird flu outbreak is reported barely a few months after India on 30 September, 2020 declared the country free from the disease. India notified the first outbreak of Avian Influenza in 2006.

"After confirmation of positive samples from ICAR-NIHSAD (National Institute of High-Security Animal Diseases), Avian Influenza has been reported at 12 epicenters," the ministry said.

Of the 12 epicenters, the bird flu has been reported in crows in Baran, Kota, Jhalawar region of Rajasthan as well as Mandsaur, Indore, Malwa areas of Madhya Pradesh.

Whereas in Himachal Pradesh, the infection was found in migratory birds in Kangra region and in poultry ducks in Kottayam, Alappuzha (4 epicentres) in Kerala, it added.

Further, the ministry said it has set up a "control room" in New Delhi to keep a watch on the situation and to take stock on a daily basis of the preventive and control measures undertaken by the state authorities.

According to the reports received from the states, control measures are being taken in Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan as per the guidelines of the National Action Plan of Avian Influenza.

Kerala has already initiated control and containment operations from January 5 at epicenters, and the culling process is in operation. In the case of Himachal Pradesh, another advisory was issued on Tuesday to avoid further spread of the infection, it added.

Bird Flu Centre issues advisory asks states to step up vigil amid suspected spread of avian influenza virus

In India, the ministry said that the disease spreads mainly by migratory birds coming into India during the winter months from September-October to February-March. The secondary spread by human handling (through fomites) cannot be ruled out.

"Infection in humans is not yet reported in India though the disease is zoonotic. There is no direct evidence that AI viruses can be transmitted to humans via the consumption of contaminated poultry products," it noted.

As per the action plan on Avian Influenza, the ministry has suggested the affected states strengthening the biosecurity of poultry farms, disinfection of affected areas, proper disposal of dead birds/carcasses, timely collection and submission of samples for confirmation and further surveillance, intensification of surveillance plan as well as the general guidelines for the prevention of disease spread from affected birds to poultry and human.

The ministry has also suggested the states to coordinate with the forest department for reporting any unusual mortality of birds.

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