The Whole of south India is on high alert following the outbreak of avian influenza also known as bird flu in Kerala. In November 2014, Kerala state government authorities have confirmed the outbreak of bird flu in the districts of Alappuzha and kottayam.
It was reported that about 17000 ducks perished last week and the animal husbandry department of Kerala has ordered immediate culling of poultry and an intensive surveillance campaign has been started in 10 km radius, also distributed veterinary kits to the affected villages. More Than 100,000 birds are being culled in the villages of Alappuzha and kottayam where the bird flu outbreak has happened.
The doctors have raised concerns about further outbreak of bird flu in Kumarakom Bird Sanctuary, which is home for a large variety of bird species and it is situated very close to where the outbreak has occurred.One of the major problems is that the authorities have not yet confirmed how the virus spread to rearing birds. Earlier this year H5N8 bird flu has affected certain European countries like Britain, Germany and Netherlands, which then spread to Asia and has affected South Korea very badly but has not been detected in humans to say the least.
In Kerala the situation is different as the officials have not confirmed if it is H5N8 (the one that hit South Korea) or H5N1 bird flu strain which is fatal to human beings, as it killed nearly 400 people and 100 millions of poultry around the world in 2005-06.
The Experts doubt that the migrating wildfowls especially the waterfowls may have contributed to the outbreak. Awareness programs were launched for the people dealing with duck meat such as farmers, employees and were asked to take necessary precautions.
- Remember to wash your hands thoroughly for 15-20 seconds before and after handling bird meat
- Clean meat and eggs properly before cooking so that virus won’t survive
- Immediately contact a physician if there is any signs of flu as bird flu since it has a higher fatality rate
According to the experts they feel that the virus can be kept away if humans follow basic hygiene levels for now.
About Bird Flu and H5N1 Virus
- Avian influenza also known as Bird Flu is a disease caused by viruses, which affects birds and can sometimes be passed on to humans. H5N1 strain is a virus, which is constantly evolving and is infecting more and more species. So if there is a bird flu outbreak in a farm then immediate culling process has to be undergone to stop the virus from spreading. Some researchers fear that there are chances that the strain mutates and pass on to humans, which can result in a large scale pandemic.
- Avoid coming in close contact with infected poultry
- Bird flu can be transmitted from blood, excreta and skin of the bird
- Infected Bird meat not properly cooked also can transmit the virus
- Fever, sore throat and cough
- Nausea, diarrhea, eye infections, pneumonia
- Lower respiratory tract infection
- Difficulty in breathing
- No vaccine is available to cure H5N1 in humans
- An antiviral named Tamiflu (Oseltamivir) helps prevent the flu from spreading in the body.