Bird Flu: Centre issues alert to states after H5N1 virus found in birds in Himachal Pradesh

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January 6, 2021 12:23 PM

Taking cognisance of the death of birds in as many as five states, the Union Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change has issued a high alert and instructed the chief secretaries of all states to take urgent measures, the Indian Express reported.

The WHO also added that there is no possibility of the virus spreading through well cooked food as the virus is heat sensitive and cannot tolerate high temperature.

The reports of several thousands birds dying in different parts of the country and the confirmation of H5N1 avian influenza virus in the bodies of birds found dead in the Pong Dam lake in Himachal Pradesh has sparked fears of another outbreak. Taking cognisance of the death of birds in as many as five states, the Union Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change has issued a high alert and instructed the chief secretaries of all states to take urgent measures, the Indian Express reported. The Ministry also termed the situation and hinted at the possibility of the transfer of virus from birds to humans and other animal species. In an attempt to control the spread of the H5N1 avian influenza virus, the Ministry also asked officials to undertake surveillance and monitor the symptoms of the disease in birds in different parts of the country.

The presence of the H5N1 avian influenza virus came to light after the ICAR-National Institute of High Security Animal Diseases in Bhopal detected the virus in the migratory birds found dead in the Pong Dam lake. The presence of the lethal virus was detected mostly in the migratory waterfowl, mostly Bar-Headed Geese and the total number of dead birds has mounted to 2700 till Tuesday. The state government officials of the Himachal Pradesh have also begun surveying the areas in the vicinity of the lake to ascertain if the virus has also transmitted into the poultry birds. Considering the seriousness of the situation, the Union Ministry of Environment has also asked the state government officials to apprise the ministry about the death of any number of birds.

In a related development, the state government of Kerala began the culling of chickens and ducks in different parts of the state to contain the spread of the H598 strain. More than 1700 ducks in the state have been reported to have died from the flu. The northern state of Haryana has also reported the death of more than 4 lakh poultry birds in Panchkula district in the last 10 days. However, the state government officials have not found the presence of the avian influenza behind the death of the poultry birds. What has further heightened the fears of the viral transmission of the virus from birds to other animal species is the report of the death of 155 odd cows from Indore in Madhya Pradesh. The samples from the dead cows indicated the presence of the H598 strain.

Bird flu is considered to be a highly viral and infectious disease which jumps from one animal species to another. Chances of occasional spreading to humans have also not been ruled out by the authorities. However, the World Health Organisation has said that the chances of transmission of the disease between human to human are very less. The WHO also added that there is no possibility of the virus spreading through well cooked food as the virus is heat sensitive and cannot tolerate high temperature.

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