Migratory birds reason behind spread of bird flu in India: Union Minister Giriraj Singh

Amit Kumar
·3-min read
Union Minister of Fisheries, Animal Husbandry and Dairying Giriraj Singh (File Photo)
Union Minister of Fisheries, Animal Husbandry and Dairying Giriraj Singh (File Photo)

New Delhi [India], January 6 (ANI): The Centre has issued an advisory to the state on the spread of bird flu in the country, said Union Minister of Fisheries, Animal Husbandry and Dairying Giriraj Singh on Wednesday adding that the virus has returned due to India with migratory birds.

"Bird flu cases can be found all over the world. India was declared free of bird flu in September. Then in October, we issued an advisory that the cold is coming and that there is a need to take precautions. Today, most of the cases are being reported from the places where migratory birds come, and they are the reason for bringing the virus to the country," Singh told ANI.

He informed that most cases of the disease are found in Kerala where "25,000 ducks have died".

"The government is on alert. Samples from all states are being sent to Bhopal. There is nothing to worry about. The government will also provide compensation to the farmers for the poultry bird that died," the minister said.

He said virus cannot be spread through cooked food and till today, no case of transmission of Avian Influenza virus to humans has been reported in India.

"Bird flu spreads in two ways, one by migratory birds and the other when it is culled. The first case in India was 2006, and since 2015 every year some cases are reported," he added.

Earlier today, considering the possibility of the spread of Avian Influenza (AI) Virus to humans and other domesticated animals and birds, the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change directed all states and Union Territories to take all possible steps for containing the spread of the disease.

As per the government's notification, the ministry asked the states/UTs to take up surveillance and monitoring of birds, for any signs of disease and take appropriate measures for controlling it, on priority.

This ministry vide letter dated January 3, 2021, had also forwarded generic guideline relating to Avian Influenza to the Chief Wildlife Wardens of all states/UTs and had requested for taking immediate steps for containing the spread of the disease.

Earlier today, the Ministry of Fisheries, Animal Husbandry and Dairying confirmed Avian Influenza, cases have been reported from Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh and Kerala.

The ministry informed this after the samples from these states were tested positive by the Indian Council of Agricultural Research -National Institute of High-Security Animal Diseases (ICAR-NIHSAD).

Notably, bird flu viruses have been circulating worldwide for centuries with four known major outbreaks recorded in the last century. India notified the first outbreak of avian influenza in 2006. Infection in humans is not yet reported in India though the disease is zoonotic.

"There is no direct evidence that AI viruses can be transmitted to humans via the consumption of contaminated poultry products. In India, the disease spreads mainly by migratory birds coming into India during winter months i.e. from September - October to February - March. The secondary spread by human handling (through fomites) cannot be ruled out," Ministry of Fisheries, Animal Husbandry and Dairying said.

In view of a threat of a global outbreak of AI, the DAHD had prepared an action plan in 2005, which was revised in 2006, 2012, 2015 and 2021 for the guidance of state government for prevention, control and containment of Avian Influenza in the country. (ANI)