Bird flu outbreak detected in Himachal, Kerala, Rajasthan, MP
Even as the country is reeling under the coronavirus pandemic, another health crisis has started troubling states. Five states have so far confirmed the outbreak of avian influenza or bird flu. Authorities in Himachal Pradesh, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Haryana, and Rajasthan said hundreds of birds have died in recent days due to bird flu. Zoos across the nation have also been alerted.
This infection has been affecting birds in several states for almost a week now. In Himachal Pradesh, the death of migratory birds in Pong Dam Lake in the Kangra district troubled authorities. After investigation, it was concluded that bird flu has killed 2,300 migratory birds. Though avian influenza largely affects birds, humans are not completely immune to it, which makes this development extremely worrisome.
The situation in other states isn't heartening either. As per PTI, more than 170 new deaths were reported on Monday from some districts of Rajasthan. With this, the tally of recent bird deaths jumped to 425. An outbreak was also reported in Kerala, with Kottayam and Alappuzha being the worst affected districts. In a farm in Kottayam, a staggering 1,500 ducks died recently.
Likewise in Haryana, almost one lakh poultry birds died in Barwala in the last few days. In Madhya Pradesh's Indore, the death of 160 crows and at least two herons were blamed on avian influenza. Considering the outbreak, an alarm was sounded in Punjab and Jharkhand. Meanwhile, bird droppings and water samples from poultry farms in Pathankot were collected to be sent for examination.
As he faced a serious problem, Kangra District Magistrate Rakesh Prajapati ordered a ban on the sale, purchase, and slaughter of poultry in Fatehpur, Dehra, Jawali, and Indora sub-divisions. He also ordered the closure of all shops selling such products under the Disaster Management Act, 2005. Further, the one-kilometer radius of Pong Dam was declared off-limits for both locals and tourists.
In deep contrast to the northern state, Kerala decided to cull its birds to control the outbreak. Minister for Forests and Animal Husbandry, K Raju, said nearly 36,000 birds will be culled. Alappuzha, which is facing the third such outbreak in the last seven years, will begin culling birds from today. Further, the Central Zoo Authority (CZA) has asked all zoos to remain vigilant.
Since the virus can occasionally infect humans, one must be extra careful. It is advised to wear protective gear, complete with a face shield, while handling animals. One must also wash hands regularly with soap and water. It is not recommended to eat, drink, or smoke in a contaminated environment. It is also advised to consume properly handled and cooked poultry items.