Delhi, eight other states confirm bird flu, key meeting today
Delhi has become the ninth state to confirm bird flu, sparking worries among authorities, and prompting the decision to close Sanjay Lake for visitors. The other states to declare that birds died of the infectious disease are Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh, Kerala, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh, Haryana, and Gujarat. Understanding the crisis, the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Agriculture called an important meeting today.
The disease is caused by Influenza Type A viruses which typically affect poultry birds. There are many strains of the virus causing this highly contagious disease. While some only lead to a low egg production, others may cause a more severe illness, even resulting in the death of the bird. In rare cases, humans can also be infected.
Though several states have been hit, the statistics from Haryana are the most frightening. More than four lakh birds have died in recent days in the northern state. In Maharashtra, meanwhile, 800 hens have died in Parbhani. Their samples were sent for testing and it was confirmed they were infected. An official, Deepak Madhukar Munglikar, said an order for culling birds has been issued.
Notably, birds were also culled in Kerala last week after bird flu was reported from Alappuzha and Kottayam districts. The administration levied curbs on the sale of poultry items in affected parts. Sale, purchase, and export of poultry birds, fish, and related items were also banned in Kangra district, the epicenter of the outbreak in Himachal Pradesh. Nearly 2,000 birds have died in the Pong Dam sanctuary.
Meanwhile, Delhi has stopped importing live birds and in Ghazipur, the biggest wholesale poultry market was shut down temporarily. After 27 ducks were found dead in Sanjay Lake, it was declared off-limits for visitors and labeled as an "alert zone." Parks in Hauz Khas and Dwarka Sector 9 were also closed. Delhi Development Authority is disinfecting areas where birds died.
Unsurprisingly, the federal government issued directions, asking chief secretaries of states and union territories to closely monitor the situation and communicate with health officials. Authorities have been asked to keep an eye on water bodies, bird markets, zoos, poultry farms, etc. At the meeting with officials of the Ministry of Animal Husbandry, Parliamentary Standing Committee on Agriculture will discuss the availability of animal vaccines.
Since transmissibility is possible, it's advised to wear protective gear, complete with a face shield, while handling animals. One must also wash hands regularly with soap and water. People should only eat properly handled and cooked poultry. Notably, early symptoms of bird flu in humans include fever, cough, sore throat, abdominal pain, and diarrhea, and it may trigger pneumonia or Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome (ARDS).