Centre Warns States Against Spread Of Avian Influenza
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Taking note of the death of a large number of birds in Himachal, Rajasthan and Kerala, the Centre on Jan 4 asked states to take all possible steps for containing the spread of disease H5N1 avian influenza on an urgent basis and warned them of possibility of spread of the disease to humans and other domesticated animals/birds.

Asking states and UTs to step up surveillance and monitoring of birds for any sign of disease, the environment ministry said the samples had tested positive for H5N1 avian influenza a virus which is transmitted between affected poultry and also from poultry to wild birds and vice-a-versa.

The environment ministry underlined the fact that a large number of migratory birds visit India and move to wetlands spread over the country, urging states to keep strict vigil on the wintering habitats of migratory birds, including wetlands, for any mortality or disease outbreak signs.

On symptoms of the Avian Influenza, the guidelines, prepared by the department of animal husbandry and dairying in 2015, said the affected birds display symptoms such as Tremors, Diarrhoea, Head Tilt and Paralysis. The disease spreads quickly causing Paralysis and Staggering.

The virus can infect humans, however, it is rare. People who come in close contact with infected alive/dead birds have been known to contract the H5N1 flu, however, it does not spread from person to person, the WHO says. The disease cannot spread through properly cooked poultry food.

The H5N1 virus is quite fatal and is known to kill six out of 10 confirmed cases. However, the actual fatality rate may be lower than the case fatality rate due to the underreporting of infections.

Early symptoms of bird flu in humans include fever, cough, sore throat, abdominal pain, and diarrhea, and it may trigger pneumonia or Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome (ARDS). The Health Ministry advises people working with poultry to wear PPEs and follow proper hand hygiene.

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