New Delhi: Several districts in four major states of India have recently reported bird flu outbreak caused by the H5N8 virus. Reportedly, 12 epicentres have been identified in the four states of Rajasthan, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh and Himachal Pradesh.
The ongoing bird flu is said to be caused by the avian influenza virus subtype H5N8. While necessary measures are being taken by the authorities to check for the disease in fowls, states have declared 'high alert' owing to the spread.
In Kerala, around 1,700 ducks have died due to the flu in in Alappuzha and Kottayam. After reports of outbreak emerged from the two districts in Kerala, the authorities ordered culling of ducks, hens, crows and other birds within 1 kilometre radius from the affected area.
K. Raju, the State Animal Husbandry Minister assured that the government would compensate farmers whose domestic birds will be culled. According to the state officials, some 40,000 birds will have to be culled to check the spread of the H5N8 virus.
In Madhya Pradesh however, the flu is predominantly seen among crows as it resulted in the deaths of scores of them in Indore.
Himachal Pradesh's Pong Dam Lake in Kangra district saw massive loss of migratory birds in the recent outbreak. About 1,800 migratory birds, most of them bar-headed geese, were found dead in the lake sanctuary so far.
Meanwhile in Rajasthan, 170 new bird deaths were reported as of Monday in addition to the earlier count of 425 dead crows, herons and other birds. According to reports, the National Institute of High Security Animal Diseases (NIHSAD) of Indian Council of Agricultural Research confirmed positive reports of bird contamination in hens, ducks and other domestic birds.
Notably, state authorities have restricted purchase, selling and consumption of specific birds in light of the situation.
About Bird flu and its occurrence in Assam
It is worth mentioning that bird flu is a highly infectious disease among hens, ducks, crows and other domestic birds. Severe respiratory disease in birds are caused by the H5N1 influenza virus, which can occasionally infect humans as well.
However, the current bird flu resulting from H5N8 virus is said to be less infectious than the H5N1 virus according to experts.
Earlier in Assam, massive outbreaks of the avian influenza or bird flu were reported in 2008, 2009 and 2013, where large numbers of birds were culled in order to contain the virus. In the year 2008 alone, as many as 2,50,000 birds were culled after the outbreak initially occurred. The H5N1 virus took such severe forms in the state that avian influenza experts were sent to investigate and research the bird flu cases and their effects in Assam