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Avian influenza panic in Delhi: All you need to know about the virus

After bird-flu scare in Delhi's zoo and deer park prompted authorities to shut down its premises on Wednesday, Gwalior Zoo officials in Madhya Pradesh have sent the samples of 15 birds, which died in last three days, for testing for bird flu virus.

"Since last three days nearly 15 birds (painted stork) died in the zoo following which their viscera and other body parts were sent to Jabalpur and Bhopal-based laboratories for testing," zoo officer Dr Pradeep Srivastava told PTI.

They said a call on opening the Gwalior Zoo for public will be taken after getting laboratory report. Following the deaths of some pelicans, the National Zoological Park and the famous Hauz Khas Deer Park in Delhi have been shut down temporarily amid the death of avians in suspected cases of H5N1 influenza virus.

Earlier in September, India had declared itself free from the highly contagious avian influenza A(H5N1) or bird flu even as it stressed the need for continued surveillance.

In a letter to chief secretaries of states, the Centre has emphasised the need for "continued surveillance especially in the vulnerable areas bordering infected countries and in areas visited by migratory birds".

The Delhi government has, however, appealed the residents not to touch dead birds and instead call its helpline number if they spot any. While the H5N1 virus can infect people, no human bird flu case has ever been recorded in India despite several outbreaks among birds.

Image courtesy: US Department of Health and Human Services (

Image courtesy: US Department of Health and Human Services (

Explained: Avian influenza or Bird flu

Avian influenza, commonly called bird flu, is an infectious viral disease of birds with a tendency of causing large-scale outbreaks of serious disease. Although most influenza viruses do not infect humans, A(H5N1) and A(H7N9) have caused serious infections in people, states this WHO fact sheet.

Bird flu symptoms

Fever, cough, sore throat, muscle, body aches, nausea can lead to severe breathing problems, pneumonia, and acute respiratory distress syndrome.

Human infections with bird flu viruses usually can be treated with the same prescription drugs that are used to treat human seasonal flu viruses.

Risk factors involved

According to WHO, a few A(H5N1) human cases have been linked to consumption of dishes made of raw, contaminated poultry blood. However, slaughter, handling carcasses of the infected poultry, and preparing poultry for daily consumption in households are likely to be risk factors.

Safety measures/treatment

Avoid coming in contact or inhaling dried dust from the droppings or bedding of infected birds.

Also, one must not cook food from infected poultry.

It's should be a no-brainer that keeping oneself hydrated and eating healthy food should be a must. Consumption of "flu antiviral drugs" should also help.

With inputs from PTI

Updated Date: Oct 21, 2016 15:43 PM

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