Maharashtra, Delhi Confirm Bird Flu: How Are States Tackling It?

The Quint
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Maharashtra and Delhi on Monday, 11 January, became the eighth and ninth states, respectively, to confirm positive cases for bird flu or avian influenza. Later in the day Uttarakhand confirmed cases of bird flu, becoming the tenth state to be effected by the flu, according to NDTV.

While Delhi has called for an emergency meeting, the outbreak in Maharashtra has been reported in Mumbai, Thane, Parbhani, Beed, among others.

In the past 10 days, lakhs of birds, including poultry, ducks, crows and migratory birds, have died in the country.

How are states curbing the spread of the bird flu? Here’s all you need to know.

What is the Centre doing to control spread of bird flu?

  • The central government, along with the Department of Animal Husbandry and Dairying (DAH&D), have increased vigilance at potential hotspots after confirmed cases in six states – Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh, Haryana, Kerala and Gujarat.

  • The DAH&D have directed officials to monitor poultry and bird markets, zoos, waterbodies and other potential hotspots where the disease could spread.

  • It has also said that PPE kits and accessories to cull birds and dispose waste safely must be made available.

How many states have confirmed bird flu cases and what we know so far?

Ministry of Fisheries, Animal Husbandry and Dairying, on Monday, 11 January said, avian influenza has been confirmed in 10 states. They are:

  • Delhi

  • Maharashtra

  • Uttarakhand

  • Himachal Pradesh

  • Kerala

  • Uttar Pradesh

  • Rajasthan

  • Haryana

  • Gujarat

  • Madhya Pradesh

Also Read: Bird Flu in India: What Is Avian Virus? Can It Infect Humans?

What’s the situation in Delhi, Maharashtra and Uttarakhand?

Delhi: The Animal Husbandry Department on Monday said that bird flu was confirmed in the capital after eight samples from dead crows and ducks tested positive for avian flu. Earlier, over 35 crows were found dead in Delhi, including 24 at a park in Jasola and 10 ducks at Sanjay Lake.

According to ANI, Ministry of Fisheries, Animal Husbandry and Dairying said, “Crows and ducks, respectively, were reported dead in New Delhi and Sanjay lake areas.”

Maharashtra: Parbhani District Collector Deepak Mughlikar on Monday confirmed that blood samples of dead chickens sent to the National Laboratory have confirmed bird flu. All birds in poultry farms within a one-kilometer radius of the Muramba village, where 800 chickens had died of bird flu will be culled, he said, adding that sale and purchase of birds within a 10-km radius has been suspended.

Other than Parbhani, cases have been confirmed in Mumbai, Thane and Beed districts as well as in Dapoli of Ratnagiri district.

Uttarakhand: Death of crow was confirmed in Kotdwar and Dehradun districts of Uttarakhand, according to Ministry of Fisheries, Animal Husbandry and Dairying.

How has the Delhi government responded?

A 24-hour helpline has been set up for the assistance and monitoring of the situation in Delhi. A control room has been set up in New Delhi to take stock on a daily basis of preventive and control measures undertaken by the states on Wednesday.

The Delhi government has restricted supply of processed chicken from outside Delhi.

“I would request the general public to not panic. The government is taking all precautionary measures. It has been decided to impose a restriction on the supply of processed chicken from outside Delhi,” Delhi Deputy CM Manish Sisodia was quoted by ANI.

According to PTI, the deputy CM also informed that sale of processed, packaged chicken brought from outside has been banned in Delhi.

Further, according to a press release from the Deputy CM’s office, he also said that positive reports of duck samples have come in from the Sanjay Lake.

Sisodia said: “Due to this, the area is being thoroughly sanitised. We are ensuring deep cleaning is being carried out by the officials.”

Asking people to not panic, the deputy CM said that the Delhi government is making all efforts to contain bird flu spread, reported PTI.

Hauz Khas Park, Dwarka Sector 9 Park, Hastsal Park and Sanjay Lake have been closed, and the Delhi zoo has tightened its measures and has been disinfecting the area twice a day, reported NDTV.

Further, the deputy CM, in the press release informed:

  • On 4 January, 2021, a guideline was issued to all doctors for continuous sample collection and strict monitoring.

  • Doctors of all 48 veterinary hospitals of the Department of Development, Animal Husbandry Unit of Delhi Government are continuously monitoring bird flu across the state.

  • 11 rapid response teams have been set up, which are continuously collecting samples.

What about the Uddhav Thackeray government in Maharashtra?

  • All people in the affected villages are being tested for the virus.

  • In light of this, Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray will hold a meeting on Monday evening to review the situation.

What’s the situation in other states?

Rajasthan: In the last one week, over 600 birds have died. The government has asked to monitor bird flocks in areas where there have been confirmed cases, in 16 of the 33 districts.

Birendra Singh, director, Rajasthan Animal Husbandry Department, according to Prasar Bharati News Service said: “2,950 birds have died so far in 13 districts, of them 2,200 are crows. No cases have been reported in poultry yet. Rapid response teams have been formed to remain vigil.”

ICAR-NIHSAD has confirmed the death of crows, migratory birds and wild birds in Tonk, Karauli, Bhilwara districts of Rajasthan, reported ANI, citing Ministry of Fisheries, Animal Husbandry and Dairying.

Himachal Pradesh: The state’s Forest Minister Rakesh Pathania on Wednesday said that at least 2,403 birds have died so far in the state and that the number is expected to grow.

Uttar Pradesh: The Kanpur Zoological Park was closed for visitors for 15 days as a suspected case of bird flu was detected in the zoo.

Haryana: Over 4 lakh chickens were found dead in the state over the past month.

Gujarat: ICAR-NIHSAD confirmed the death of crows, migratory birds and wild birds in Valsad, Vadodara and Surat districts of Gujarat, reported ANI, citing, Ministry of Fisheries, Animal Husbandry and Dairying.

Does this mean I cannot buy meat in affected states?

No, that is not true. No state has imposed a total ban on the sale of chicken and meat.

Which states have banned import of poultry products?

  • Punjab has imposed a complete ban on the import of live birds, including poultry and unprocessed meat, till 15 January.

  • Delhi has banned import of live birds on Saturday and closed down the city’s biggest poultry market in Ghazipur.

  • Import of poultry to Madhya Pradesh, especially chicken shipments, from southern states have been banned for 10 days starting Wednesday.

  • Kerala on Wednesday announced that sale of poultry, meat and eggs will not be allowed in the affected areas for the next 10 days, after declaring the outbreak as a state-specific disaster.

Which states are under the threat of bird flu?

In Punjab, four crows and a crane were found dead in Gurdaspur district on Thursday. The state has been declared a ‘controlled area’ in view of the outbreak affecting birds in neighbouring states, reported NDTV.

Chhattisgarh’s Balod district saw many wild birds and chicken die, and the state has formed a rapid response team to probe the matter, reported NDTV.

Also Read: Avian Influenza Confirmed in Birds of 7 States, Including UP: Govt

What exactly is bird flu?

Avian influenza is the disease caused by infection with avian (bird) influenza (flu) ‘Type A’ viruses. This is said to occur naturally among wild aquatic birds worldwide and can infect domestic poultry and other birds and animals, explained the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Can humans contract bird flu?

According to CDC, Avian flu viruses ‘do not normally infect human beings’. Such an infection is rare, says Mayo Clinic website, but adds saying that if infected, the virus ‘can be deadly’.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), bird flu can be transmitted from one person to another, but again this is a rarity. From 2003 to 2019, the WHO confirmed a total of 861 human cases of H5N1 worldwide, of which 455 deaths were recorded.

(With inputs from NDTV and The Indian Express.)

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