Status of Avian Influenza(AI) in India

Status of Avian Influenza(AI) in India

News: In a bid to curb the spread of the bird flu or avian flu viruses, Central Government has set up a control room in the national capital to monitor the situation and take stock on a daily basis of the preventive and control measures undertaken by the state authorities.

Facts:

  • What is Bird Flu or Avian Influenza? It is a highly contagious viral disease caused by Influenza Type A viruses which generally affects poultry birds such as chickens and turkeys.
  • How does the bird flu spread? Wild aquatic birds such as ducks and geese are the natural reservoir of Influenza A viruses and the central players in the ecology of these viruses.
    • Many birds carry the flu without developing sickness and shed it in their droppings.Since birds excrete even while flying, they also provide a nice aerosol of influenza virus, shedding it all over the world.
  • Symptoms: Unlike in birds, where it generally infects the gut, the avian influenza attacks the respiratory tract of humans and may cause severe respiratory illnesses such as pneumonia or Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome (ARDS). Its early symptoms include fever, cough, sore throat, and sometimes abdominal pain and diarrhoea.
  • Treatment: Antiviral drugs, especially oseltamivir, improve the prospects of survival in humans.
  • Bird Flu in India: India notified the first outbreak of avian influenza in 2006.Infection in humans is not yet reported in India though the disease is zoonotic.There is no direct evidence that AI viruses can be transmitted to humans via the consumption of contaminated poultry products.
    • In India, the disease spreads mainly by migratory birds coming into India during winter months i.e. from September – October to February – March.The secondary spread by human handling (through fomites) cannot be ruled out.

Action Plan for Prevention, Control & Containment of Avian Influenza:

  • Department of Animal Husbandry and Dairying (DAHD) had prepared an action plan in 2005 which was revised in 2006, 2012 , 2015 and 2021 for guidance of State Government for prevention, control and containment of Avian Influenza in India.The action plan calls for:
    • Strengthening the biosecurity of poultry farms, disinfection of affected areas, proper disposal of dead birds/carcasses
    • Timely collection and submission of samples for confirmation and further surveillance
    • Intensification of surveillance plan as well as the general guidelines for prevention of disease spread from affected birds to poultry and humans.
    • Coordination with the forest department for reporting any unusual mortality of birds was also suggested to the States.
    • To keep a vigil on any unusual mortality amongst birds and to report immediately to take necessary measures.

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