Authorities issued advisories to contain the spread of avian influenza, or bird flu, on Wednesday and asked all states to keep a close vigil to detect any unusual bird death as the Centre confirmed the outbreak has been reported from at least four states. Here is what we know about the outbreak:
— Thousands of birds have died in Kerala (mostly poultry), Himachal Pradesh (migratory birds), and Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh (crows) since the beginning of the outbreak in December-end.
— Migratory birds are believed to have been the source of the outbreak.
— The government has set up a control room in New Delhi to keep a watch on the situation even as no cases among humans has been reported so far.
— Around 400,000 chickens have died in Haryana’s Panchkula district over the past 20 days.
— Similarly, three crows are suspected to have died of the disease in Uttarakhand’s capital Dehradun. Their test reports were awaited.
— Jharkhand and Gujarat, too, have sounded an alert.
— The Union health ministry has deployed special teams in Panchkula, apart from Kerala’s two epicentres.
— Experts said the current outbreak is caused by the H5N8 strain, though there are other strains circulating globally. A series of outbreaks have been reported in Europe in the past weeks, with wild birds suspected to be spreading the disease.
— Both H5N1 (another strain of avian influenza) and H5N8 have high pathogenicity (the ability of a pathogen to cause disease), but they do not infect humans much.
— Past outbreaks among farm birds have needed extensive culling.
— The current outbreak began barely a few months after India declared the country free from the disease on September 30. India notified the first outbreak of avian influenza in 2006.
— The government has identified 12 disease epicentres: Baran, Kota, Jhalawar regions in Rajasthan; Mandsaur, Indore, Malwa areas in Madhya Pradesh; Kangra in Himachal Pradesh; and Kerala’s Kottayam and Alappuzha (four epicentres).
— Over 69,000 birds, including ducks and chickens, were culled in Alappuzha and Kottayam, Kerala, on Wednesday.
— Kerala has declared bird flu a state disaster and deployed rapid response teams for culling and surveillance efforts.
— Madhya Pradesh has banned transportation of poultry from other states as a measure to check the bird flu spread.
— Himachal Pradesh banned sale and export of poultry products and fish in the four subdivisions of Dehra, Fatehpur, Jawali, and Indora.
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