Bird Flu: All About the latest outbreak in India 

Check out what is Bird Flu and everything about its latest outbreak in India:

Bird flu has been reported in some places like Himachal Pradesh, crows in Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh, and ducks in Kerala. In Haryana, around one lakh poultry birds have died mysteriously in the last few days.

In Himachal Pradesh’s Pong Dam Lake, around 1,800 migratory birds have been found dead. In Kerala, the flu has been detected in two districts, prompting authorities to order the culling of ducks. A bird flu alert has been sounded in Rajasthan, where over 250 crows were found dead in half a dozen districts.

What is bird flu?

Bird flu is a highly contagious disease caused by Influenza Type A viruses that usually affects poultry birds like chickens and turkeys. There are different strains of the virus, some are mild and might cause low egg production and other mild symptoms among chickens, and others are severe and lethal. 

How does it 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. A Lot of birds carry the flu without developing sickness and shed it in their droppings. Since birds excrete even while flying, they provide “a nice aerosol of influenza virus, shedding it all over the world”, said the experts. 

How does the bird flu start infecting humans?

The bird flu outbreak is affecting poultry around the globe for decades now. It was the H5N1 strain of the virus, and 6 out of 18 infected humans died of the disease.

It was contained, but re-emerged a few years later in various other parts of the globe and caused hundreds of human deaths. Also, several other strains of the virus such as H5N2 and H5N8 jumped from animals to humans, thus becoming a global public health concern.

It does not spread to humans easily.  Usually, people coming in close contact with infected live or dead birds have contracted the H5N1 bird flu and it does not spread from one person to another as per WHO. 

Why be sacred? 

H5N1 is severe and deadly, around 6 out of 10 cases in humans have led to deaths. If the virus mutates and becomes easily transmissible then it can cause a pandemic.

So far, in India, no case of bird flu has been detected. The department of animal husbandry has reported 25 episodes of H5N1 bird flu in poultry in 15 states from 2006 (when the first outbreak occurred in Maharashtra and Gujarat) till 2015.

Symptoms and treatments:

Unlike in birds, where it generally infects the gut, avian influenza attacks the respiratory tract of humans and may cause severe respiratory illnesses such as pneumonia or Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome (ARDS). Antiviral drugs, especially oseltamivir are used to treat it.