NEW DELHI:Four states reported outbreaks of Avian Influenza or bird flu (H5N1), prompting the Union government to direct all states and union territoris to be vigilant about any unusual bird deaths.

It has also asked them to strengthen biosecurity measures in all poultries, maintain enhanced surveillance in wet markets and urged strict and timely reporting of Severe Acute Respiratory Infection (SARI) cases.

Additionally, directives have also been given for regular health-checkups for all cullers and poultry workers within 10 days.

H5N1 infection spreads from birds—mainly migratory birds – and is known to cause outbreaks among domesticated poultry.

Also Read: Kerala: Avian flu outbreak confirmed at government poultry farm in Manarcad, authorities implement stringent measures

Bird flu can easily be transmitted to humans. 

Bird flu outbreaks have been a global concern

Since March this year, there has been global concern over bird flu outbreaks. The government is investigating the spread of the virus via joint efforts by the ministry of animal husbandry and the health ministry’s Integrated Disease Surveillance Programme(IDSP).

As a matter of abundant precaution, a joint advisory has been issued by health & animal husbandry ministry respectively. The government has advised for the orientation of all healthcare works in public and private sector for signs, symptoms and case definition of avian influenza.

“Be vigilant for any unusual deaths among domestic birds or poultry in your states, strengthen biosecurity measures in all poultry establishments, zoos, poultry markets. Be prepared for all preventive measures like stockpiling of adequate number of antiviral drugs (oseltamivir), PPE, masks, isolation wards at dedicated hospitals. Enhanced surveillance in wet markets, poultry farm workers as well as expanded surveillance in sewage samples, water bodies and crows etc.,” stated the advisory urging for strict and timely reporting of Severe Acute Respiratory Infection (SARI) cases.

Also Read: Bird flu outbreak ‘100 times worse’ than Covid pandemic, say experts

This year, outbreaks have been reported in poultry in Andhra Pradesh (Nellore), Maharashtra (Nagpur), Kerala (Alappuzha, Kottayam and Pathanamthitta districts) and Jharkhand (Ranchi).

For the states where there is an active outbreak of the bird flu, the Centre has instructed to collect samples from cullers and surveillance workers on 5th and 10th days following sanitization operation for H5N1 testing.

“Conducting surveillance for suspected human cases for providing health checkups for cullers and poultry farm workers with a duration of 10 days,” said the advisory while recommending the use of chemoprophylaxis, management and use of personal protective equipment.

Queries sent to the health ministry remained unanswered.

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Published: 31 May 2024, 07:08 PM IST

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