Bird Flu Outbreak: Centre Issues Advisory, Sends Teams to States

Himachal Pradesh, Kerala, Rajasthan, Haryana and Madhya Pradesh have reported confirmed cases of bird flu so far. 

3 min read
Avian influenza (H5N1). Image used for representational purposes.

The Centre issued advisories on Wednesday, 6 January, to contain the spread of bird flu also known as Avian influenza (H5N1) which has confirmed cases across five states of India – Himachal Pradesh, Kerala, Rajasthan, Haryana and Madhya Pradesh, reported ANI.

In a letter to all states and Union territories, the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change directed them to monitor the birds and take up surveillance to spot any signs of disease.

The letter has ordered immediate steps to control the spread of the virus, keeping in mind that it is transmissible to humans and domesticated animals, reported ANI.

Multi-Disciplinary Teams Sent to Kerala, Haryana

Meanwhile, multi-disciplinary teams have been deployed on 4 January to Alappuzha and Kottayam districts of Kerala, and Panchkula district of Haryana to implement the health ministry’s containment plan of the bird flu, reported PTI.

The two multi-disciplinary teams comprising experts from the National Centre for Disease Control, National Institute of Virology at PGIMER in Chandigarh, RML Hospital and Lady Hardinge Medical College in Delhi have been deployed to the affected districts by the ministry, IANS reported.

Additionally, a high level team comprising the Director, NCDC, and Joint Secretary and COVID-19 nodal officer, Ministry of Food Processing Industries, has been deployed to Kerala to oversee the implementation of Avian Influenza containment operations and guide the state health department in mounting appropriate public health interventions for the same.

In addition, this high level team will also review the COVID-19 situation in the state. Similar reports of Avian Influenza have also been received from Jhalawar, Rajasthan, and Bhind, Madhya Pradesh, involving crows and migratory birds.

Five States on High Alert, Sale of Poultry Banned

After confirmation of bird flu in Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh and Kerala, the Department of Animal Husbandry and Dairying has set up a control room in New Delhi to take stock on a daily basis of preventive and control measures undertaken by the states, the Centre said on Wednesday, 6 January.

As a precautionary measure, chicken shipments from southern states including Kerala are being banned in Madhya Pradesh for the next days according to an announcement by state Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan on Wednesday.

“Legal action will be taken against those found violating the poultry ban,” said Agar Municipal Corporation to ANI.

The CM has asked authorities to take preventive measures to contain the spread. "Bird flu symptoms were found in crows and in some other other avian species, but during a random inspection of poultries, the disease was not found in any chicken," the chief minister said, quoted PTI. Poultry farm owners will be following new guidelines directed by district collectors in the state.

Over 400 avian deaths have been reported in eleven districts of the state, since the recent December outbreak of the bird flu.

“Bird flu confirmed in Indore, Mandsaur and Agar Malwa after reports surfaced of crows found dead in 11 districts of the state. Bird flu control room set up in every district of the state,” said the Department of Animal Husbandry, Madhya Pradesh to ANI.

What’s Happened So Far?

Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Himachal Pradesh issued high alert on Tuesday.

In Kerala, as a precautionary measure to stop the spread of the virus, many birds were culled. “Bird flu was brought to Kerala by migratory birds. So far, 37,654 birds have been culled in Alappuzha and 7,29 birds were culled in Kottayam. Due to bird flu, 23,857 birds died in both districts. Mass culling process of birds will end tomorrow,” said Kerala Animal Husbandry Minister K Raju, to ANI.

Kerala has banned the sale of poultry, meat and eggs in affected areas said the minister. He said the districts that have reported positive cases will be under vigil for ten days.

On 5 January, Kerala issued a state-specific disaster alert after confirmed cases in Kottayam and Alappuzha districts. Over 1,700 ducks died in a Kottayam farm.

In the last one week, over 600 birds have died in Rajasthan, out of which 471 were crows, while others include heron and baya weaver. The government asked for vigil and monitoring of the bird flocks in the state where there are confirmed cases in 16 of the 33 districts.

Himachal Pradesh Forest Minister Rakesh Pathania on Wednesday said that at least 2,403 birds have died so far in the state and that the number is expected to grow.

(With inputs from PTI and ANI)

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