After 15 birds died at the Gandhi Zoological Garden in Gwalior in the last three days, the Centre issued guidelines to state governments and zoo officials in the country for “control and containment” of bird flu, or avian influenza.
Even though the virus strains in the bird flu cases at Delhi and Gwalior zoos were found to be less infectious, having no known case of impact on human the Centre issued the guidelines.
The government has also asked specialised institutions in Bhopal and Jalandhar to investigate the outbreak thoroughly to “determine the source of infection, so that zoo authoritiescan implement suitable strategy to prevent the ingress of the disease to captive birds”.
“Though dead birds in both Delhi and Gwalior incidents tested positive, it confirmed the strain of H5N8 avian influenza virus, which is not as `infective’ as the H5N1 virus. No human infections with H5N8 has been established anywhere in the world till now. However, necessary precautions are to be undertaken…,” said the animal husbandry department of Union agriculture ministry.
The National Zoological Park (NZP), New Delhi, had reported mortality of nine birds, including five rosy pelican, three ducks and one painted stork between October 14 and 17. The Madhya Pradesh government also sounded an alert following the sudden death of 15 painted storks at its Gwalior zoo.
Source: The Times of India
Read more about avian (bird) flu scare
Source of avian (bird) flu scare
The scare of avian flu (official name of bird flu) originated in Delhi after the Delhi zoo reported over a dozen of dead birds on its premises. It was followed by death of birds at Deer Park, Hauz Khas and near a water body at Sundar Nagar. Besides, local birds, migratory birds died in zoo premises. While, the RDDL Jalandhar detected symptoms of the virus in the samples of carcasses of birds tested, Bhopal’s HSADL confirmed H5N1 virus in three birds. H5N1 is the virus that causes bird flu.
- Delhi Zoo: 12 birds found dead. (Of these three are confirmed bird flu cases)
- Deer Park: 5 birds found dead
- Sundar Nagar: 3 crows found dead
- Gwalior Zoo: 15 birds found dead. (The aerial distance between Gwalior and Delhi is only 285 km)
Source of Bird flu virus (H5N1)
Bird flu virus already exists in dormant state in India, Bangladesh, Pakistan, China and Russia border. It can become active. The other source is a migratory bird. The virus infects and kills wild birds and domestic poultry.
“Nearly 225 migratory species visit India every year and it starts in September. We get migratory birds in almost all the 7.57 lakh wetlands in the country. It’s serious if any of the flock gets infected,” said Arya.
- First confirmed and notified case of H5N1 outbreak in India was reported in Gujarat and Maharashtra in February 2005
- The second outbreak — a major one was in March-April 2006 in Madhya Pradesh — where more than 10 lakh poultry birds were culled
- In 2007, it was in Manipur, followed by West Bengal in 2008. More than 40 lakh birds were killed in Bengal
- In the consecutive years, outbreak occurred in Tripura, Odisha, Sikkim, Assam and Bihar
- The last bird flu outbreak was reported in 2015 in Kerala
- In 2005, 50-60 birds were found dead at Okhla Bird Park in Delhi, which created a panic. However, after post-mortem it was found that the birds died after consuming poisonous feed used to catch fish
- In India, no case of bird flu infecting human has been reported yet
- Large-scale culling of poultry birds took place in a decade causing huge financial loss to poultry business
Can I consume egg and chicken?
According to experts, no case of bird flu has been reported in poultry so far. It’s safe to consume properly cooked egg and chicken.
“Most bacteria and virus can’t survive high heat. Instead of consuming cold meat, it’s preferable to have properly cooked, roasted chicken and eggs in the form of boiled and omelet,” advised Arya.
What government has done so far?
- Delhi government has started a helpline number (011-2389 0318) where citizens can report cases of bird flu and seek help
- Large number of samples has been taken from zoos, bird sanctuaries and poultry markets and sent for testing
- Municipal corporations have deployed teams to check flu
- Delhi government is keeping a strict vigil on poultry market
- Delhi minister Gopal Rai said that Delhi government is well-equipped with medicines to deal with the situation.
- Central Zoo Authority is conducting inspection of zoo enclosures
- Delhi Zoo and Deer Park have been shut down
According to medical experts, one shouldn’t touch a dead bird or the carcass and keep a safe distance. It should immediately be reported to authorities concerned
Physical contact with bird droppings should be avoided, because any bird can be an infected one. Extreme care should be taken while clearing droppings, because most human infection is from close contact with sick or dead infected poultry or droppings
Any one suffering from fever must take medical advice
Avoid spreading of rumours and panic