Bird flu resurfaces in Delhi zoo; seven samples return positive
A confirmed case of bird flu has been reported from the National Zoological Park, or the Delhi Zoo, located in the National Capital. A total of seven samples collected from four different parts of the zoo were sent for testing in light of the outbreak, and all of them have since returned positive, officials confirmed on Tuesday. Here are more details on this.
The samples were sent to the National Institute of High Security Animal Diseases (NIHSAD) on February 3, the director of the zoo, Ramesh Pandey, said. "The samples have been found positive for avian influenza virus...All safety measures and protocols are strictly being adhered to and constant monitoring is being done by field staff and a team of veterinarians," he informed.
"Birds in captivity and free ranging birds are behaving normal as per reports, and all possible prophylactic measures and drills related to disinfection are being taken regularly (sic)," Pandey further said.
Earlier, six serological samples were sent to the NIHSAD on January 19, which were found negative. However, samples taken from a dead brown fish owl in captivity at the zoo had tested positive around the same time. Pandey said surveillance would continue at the zoo and more samples would be sent. Notably, the zoo has remained closed to the public since the COVID-19 lockdown.
In January this year, more than seven states across the country had reported confirmed cases of bird flu or avian influenza. That had prompted the central government to issue guidelines to zoos and National Parks, advising them to monitor the deaths of birds and report such matters to the relevant authorities as soon as possible.
Bird flu is caused by Influenza Type A viruses, which tend to affect birds like chickens and turkeys. There are several strains of the said virus. While some only lead to a low egg production and other mild symptoms, others may trigger severe illness, even resulting in the death of the infected bird in some cases.
While the virus can infect humans, it is rare. According to the government, no case of bird flu has been detected in humans in India yet. Those who come in close contact with infected birds have been known to contract the flu. However, it does not spread from person to person, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).
The early symptoms of bird flu in humans include fever, cough, sore throat, abdominal pain, and diarrhea. It may also lead to pneumonia or Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome (ARDS). The government has advised people working with poultry to wear protective equipment (PPE kits) and follow proper hand hygiene. Further, the disease does not spread through properly cooked poultry food.