Diseases

Bird flu in India: a mysterious bird deaths

Bird flu in India Posted On
Posted By SUMIT SHARMA

Introduction

We are already struggling with coronavirus disease (COVID 19). Now, we have another reason to worry because bird flu in India is emerging.

Currently, several states in India reported the sudden death of birds. In Uttarakhand, around 2000 birds have been found dead. Moreover, around one lakh birds have died mysteriously in Haryana.

Bird flu in India

Till now, the outbreak of bird flu has been confirmed in nine states. These are Haryana, Rajasthan, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Chhattisgarh, Uttarakhand, Gujrat, Uttar Pradesh and Punjab.

Among these states, Kerala is the most affected state and around 50,000 birds are culled.

Due to this outbreak, the poultry industry has seriously disturbed. It is the biggest concern for health if you are directly in contact with infected birds.

In this article, I am going to discuss bird flu virus. Besides, I will explain some important facts about this virus.

So, let’s start the topic –

Bird flu in India

 

What is the bird flu?

Just like coronavirus and swine flu, bird flu is also a zoonotic disease. In other words, it can spread from animals to humans.

In medical term, it is also known as avian influenza.

Avian means “bird”

Influenza means “flu”

It is such a highly contagious infectious disease caused by Influenza Type A viruses.

Generally, there are four types of influenza – A, B, C and D. Among these, influenza A and B are the most common cause of human illness.

Furthermore, avian influenza has a different strain. These avian influenza strains are classified into two categories depending upon pathogenicity, namely –

law pathogenic avian influenza (LPAI) or

high pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) viruses.

According to NHS (National Health Services), there are four main strains of influenza which are in concern –

  • H5N1 (since 1997)
  • H7N9 (since 2013)
  • H5N6 (since 2014)
  • H5N8 (since 2016)

The most common and dangerous strain of bird flu is H5N1. This is the highly pathogenic strain which is responsible for the greatest risk to spread infections.

So, it may lead to severe diseases and can be fatal.

 

 

Is there bird flu in India?

According to official sources – In India, several states have confirmed the positive test of avian influenza.

It was observed that birds are fluffing feathers, nasal discharge, loose stool, swelling of eyelids, head, comb and legs. Moreover, it was noted that the unusual number of death of birds in various states.

Bird flu in India

Even many states in India (Kerala, Himachal Pradesh etc.) has started culling process.

In this process, they slaughter the domestic poultry birds in the infected area. Then they bury into a deep pit of land. 

Therefore, the Indian government has taken this step to control the bird flu infection.

 

Is bird flu harmful to humans? How does infection spreads?

As I already told you, bird flu is a zoonotic disease. This influenza virus can jump from animal to human.

Generally, avian influenza naturally occurs among aquatic and migratory birds. They can spread infection in other domestic birds including chicken, ducks etc.

Bird flu in India

 

 

When these birds get infected, the virus travels into their intestines and respiratory tract.

So, if you close contact with these infected birds via saliva, mucus and faeces. You may get sick when you touch your mouth, nose and eyes with infected hands.

According to WHO, the death rate of this virus 60%. It is very higher than other viruses like coronavirus (2-3%), swine flu (less than 10%) etc. It may be more vulnerable if you are having

But fortunately, the good news is that it does not transmit from human to human. It is not an airborne disease too.

Moreover, the current strains (2021) of this virus are H5N8. It is less dangerous than H5N1 but it is highly lethal for birds.

What are the symptoms of bird flu in humans?

Although, the symptoms of bird flu are similar to normal influenza, swine flu and coronavirus. So, it is important to aware of its symptoms.

According to the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), if you exposed to bird flu. You may suffer from following symptoms like

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Sore throat
  • Muscle aches
  • Sometimes accompanied by abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting and diarrhoea.

 

If it is untreated, it may lead to severe respiratory disease like Pneumonia, shortness of breath and respiratory failure.

 

What will happen if you eat chicken with bird flu?

It is such a vital question that always comes in our mind. And you would be worrying about to eat chicken and eggs in this circumstance.

But you do not need to worry at all.

As per WHO (World Health Organisation), it is safe to eat chicken and other poultry products if you cook them over 70 °C. Because this virus is heat-labile.

This virus degrades and kills when exposing to extreme heat condition.

However, there is no need to completely stop eating chicken. But you need to take caution and make sure it is well cooked. You may be on risk if you eat uncooked or half-boiled chicken/eggs.

 

Is bird flu curable?

Yes. It is curable. We have a certain antiviral medication which prevents the spread of the virus in the body. For example –

  • oseltamivir (Tamiflu)
  • zanamivir (Relenza)
  • peramivir (Rapivab)

These medicines are very effective and help to reduce the symptoms of the disease. But if you have severe illness than you may require proper patient management such as hospitalization, isolation, and intensive care.

As far as the concern about the Bird flu vaccine. In 2007, US-FDA licensed the first vaccine to prevent H5N1 bird flu. Still, it is not available in the market. Because the vaccine will be manufactured if bird flu H5N1 becomes a pandemic.

 

How is bird flu prevented?

The prevention is always better than cure. The best way to prevent bird flu by avoiding the source of exposure like –  

  • Avoid visiting poultry farm and meat market.
  • Do not try to close contact with infected birds or suspected birds.
  • Do not touch the dead birds.
  • Always maintain proper hygiene.
  • Always wash hand with soap, after handling poultry and eggs.

 

Also, you make sure to cook the poultry products properly.

 

Conclusion

Bird flu rarely happens to human. But it can be dangerous and fatal. So, it is necessary to take all possible precautions to prevent this virus.

I hope you learn something new in today’s article – bird flu in India. If you found this article to be informative, spread to social media.

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