Avian Influenza Increases Death Toll in Several Indian States, Authorities at Alert

While the Indian authorities are still battling the severe coronavirus pandemic, the outbreak of avian influenza, commonly known as bird flu, in India has created a new challenge. Since the first cases reported in December 2020, thousands of birds (mostly poultry, migratory birds, and crows) have died in Kerala, Himachal Pradesh, Rajasthan, and Madhya Pradesh. Officials suspect that the migratory birds are the reason for the outbreak.

Even though there are no reported cases of human infection yet, the situation is being monitored closely. The Union government has set up a control room to evaluate the situation and to track preventive and control measures in states. Kerala has already declared the bird flu a state disaster and has begun control and containment operations at its four epicentres.

Bird Flu Increases Death Toll in Several States in India, Authorities at Alert

Recent outbreak of bird flu in India has killed thousands of birds in several states | Image: Hindustan Times

Another set of guidelines was issued earlier this week where the state authorities were asked to keep an eye on the situation and report to the Centre in case any more deaths occurred. Usually, bird flu arrives in India in the winter months through migratory birds. Even though the disease is rarely passed to humans from the birds, the government said that the chances of such transmission by handling the infected birds cannot be ruled out.

An advisory has been issued each to the states of Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh on 1 January 2021, so as to avoid further spread of the infection. As per the information received from Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan, control measures are being taken as per the guidelines of National Action Plan of avian influenza. Another advisory has been issued on 5 January, 2021, to Himachal Pradesh, where the state has been advised to take measures so as to avoid further spread of disease to poultry.

Specified a statement from the ministry of fisheries, animal husbandry and dairying.

Bird Flu Increases Death Toll in Several States in India, Authorities at Alert

There have no cases of virus transmission to humans yet | Image: Reuters

The government has revealed that the bird and human populations are at high risk for avian influenza. Although the virus doesn’t pass through properly cooked meats, it is advisable to avoid bird meat for a certain period as chickens, ducks, pigeons and other common birds are infected severely. Public health experts have urged for extra caution, with the coronavirus pandemic challenge running parallel to the bird flu outbreak.

This year didn’t particularly start off great – while the coronavirus pandemic isn’t over, the world is now grappling with its mutated version, christened ‘Strain’. India is fighting on three fronts: coronavirus, strain virus, and avian influenza. It can only be hoped that these medical ordeals will soon be overcome or else both humans and avian species of the Indian subcontinent face catastrophic mortality.

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