What Is Bird Flu?
Bird flu is an infectious viral disease that is caused by the Influenza Type A virus. The virus is found usually in poultry birds like chicken or turkeys.
In bird flu, various strains of Influenza Virus affect birds but the flu virus in animals can possibly change and infect humans easily.
General precautions are recommended to avoid the spread of the disease in humans.
Where Is It Originated From?
The first Avian influenza or bird flu was detected in 1996 in geese, in China, and was detected for the first time in humans in 1997 when an outbreak took place in poultry in Hong Kong.
Since then, the pathogenic Avian influenza virus is detected in more than 50 countries in wild birds as well as poultry in Asia, Africa, Europe, and the Middle East.
Canada reported the first human infection with the Asian H5N1 virus in 2014 and was an “imported” case because the traveler recently returned from China.
It is believed that an illegal bird trade or movement of infected poultry or migratory birds can be the reason for the cause of the spread.
The virus was contained after 1997 but re-emerged in various parts of the world recently. The epicenter turned out to be South East Asia and mammals like cats and lions were seem to be infected.
How Does It Spread? How Does It Mutate?
The Deadly virus does not easily infect humans but it’s a close contactor, prolonged contact with infected, sick, or dead birds might result in the infection in humans with the Asian H5N1 virus.
Aquatic Birds like ducks and geese act as a reservoir for the Influenza A virus and are the lead players when it comes to spreading the virus.
Most of the birds may be asymptomatic but spread the symptoms to others.
The birds have the ability to excrete while flying so it is possible that they may spread it anywhere in the world wherever they go. Water Birds who travel or migrate long distances drop the Influenza A virus and it might take place in poultry or terrestrial bird.
In some cases, the virus was seen infecting mammals like cats, dogs, pigs, and horses.
The strains of the virus cause low egg production and various other lenient symptoms in poultry birds but some symptoms might be severe and fatal.
Bird Flu Symptoms And Infecting Regions
Bird flu affects the gut in birds and the respiratory tract in humans.
This might result in lethal respiratory problems like pneumonia or ARDS, Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome.
Symptoms of bird flu include abdominal pain, diarrhea, sore throat, fever, and cough. According to the Union Health Ministry, the antiviral drug “oseltamivir” is active in fighting against the virus in humans.
Precautionary measures like using PPEs and following hand hygiene in poultry farms are advised by the Ministry.
Is It Deadly?
Although the virus does not easily spread to humans, the close contact with an infected alive or dead bird might increase the chances of the infection in humans.
According to WHO, it is probably not possible for the disease to spread to humans if they have properly prepared and cooked the poultry food.
Since Influenza Type A virus is very sensitive to heat, it dies at extreme temperatures like cooking temperatures.
There is no current evidence that the disease cannot spread to people through properly cooked food but precautions are necessary to be taken.
6 out of 10 confirmed human cases of the H5N1 bird flu have resulted in death since the virus mutates and can be easily transferred from human to human.
The virus has the potential ability to cause a pandemic because it can alter its shape and attack the human cells if transferred from a human to another human.
Bird Flu In India
Till now no bird flu cases have been detected in India according to the Union Health ministry but the department of animal husbandry reported 25 cases, between 2006-2015, of H5N1 Bird Flu over 15 poultry farms.
The outbreak of the first bird flu took place in Maharashtra and Gujarat. The Influenza Type A virus was detected in crows also.
The variant of Avian Influenza, H5N8, has been detected in various parts of India where the epicenter turned out to be at 12 places in states namely Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh, and Kerala.
This variant was detected in Rajasthan’s Kota and Baran districts and is less infectious compared to the H5N8 virus.
The confirmed samples from Rajasthan were sent from Jhalawar.
In Madhya Pradesh, the confirmed cases of death of crows in Mandsaur and Agar Malwa districts were found.
Over 155 cows were found dead in Indore, 12 cows were confirmed with the bird flu infection, with this variant of Influenza type A virus and since December 23rd, 2020 around 400 Avian Influenza infected deaths have been reported by Madhya Pradesh.
In Himachal Pradesh bar-headed geese mostly, including other migratory birds, were found dead in Kangradistrict’s Pong Dam lake.
1700 or more Ducks have been reported to have died in Kerala in Alappuzha and Kottayam.
The Indian Government On Bird Flu
The government has raised an alert in the poultry farms.
The government has assessed the preventive as well as control measures which will be undertaken by the state authorities with the Department of Animal Husbandry and Dairying.
They will be setting up their control room in New Delhi to take care of the situation.
The government has commenced various surveillance-related strategic reserves of supplies including PPE kits and other hygiene-related necessary facilities for the animals as well as public awareness.
The Indore zoo has also been put on high alert with medicines being sprayed along in the area. Daly College in Indore has been put on alert too.
The district magistrate of Kangra has announced a ban on the sale as well as the calling off of poultry in the allowed zones. The shops in the Alert zones have been asked to stop the selling of the poultry or the fish.
Movement of tourists has also been forbidden, in Himachal Pradesh, around the one-kilometer radius of the Pong Dam lake.
Section 144 has been imposed in Rajasthan in a one-kilometer radius of the Jhalawar district’s Balaji area.
Bird Flu In Other Countries
Avian influenza has affected 10 European countries including the Netherlands, Germany, France, Belgium, United Kingdom, Denmark, Sweden, Poland, Croatia, and Ukraine and cases have reported.
Cases of Avian influenza has also been reported in South Korea and Japan.