Bird flu confirmed in Kerala’s Kuttanad region

Ten teams have been formed to cull birds within 1 kilometer radius of where the bird flu was detected.
A group of ducks swimming in the water
A group of ducks swimming in the water
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Samples of birds sent for testing from Thakazhi panchayat in Kerala’s Kuttanad area are positive for bird flu, authorities have confirmed. Reports from the samples have shown that the birds have tested positive for the H5N1 influenza virus. Kuttanad covers Alappuzha, Kottayam and Pathanamthitta districts. 

The samples had been sent to National Institute of High Security Animal Diseases (ICAR) in Bhopal for testing. Following the report showing bird flu, the Deputy Commissioner of Alappuzha called a meeting and a decision was taken to cull birds within one kilometer of where these birds are located and 10 teams had been formed in this regard. Additionally, meat sale in 13 panchayats in the area will be regulated.

This is a blow for duck farmers especially in Alappuzha district as Christmas season is around the corner.

The last time there were bird flu cases in the state was in July, when 300 birds reportedly died in Kozhikode. At the time, all poultry farms within a 10 km radius were closed down, and it was brought under control. 

Earlier in January, a bird flu outbreak had occurred in the Kottayam and Alappuzha districts and the Kerala government had declared the outbreak a state disaster. The officials culled around 40,000 poultry birds in the region to prevent the spread of the flu. The outbreak had killed over 12,000 birds.

When the outbreak had occurred, an 18 member rapid response team which included 10 doctors, had been deployed in Alappuzha district to carry out the culling process.

According to medical experts, avian influenza (H5N1) or H5N8 is commonly called bird flu though many other strains are prevalent. It spreads through droppings, saliva and secretions of birds. Recently, India reported its first death due to the bird flu. 

There is only a low chance for human beings to get infected by the H5N8 virus that is reported in Kerala, according to the World Health Organisation. In a 2016 report, WHO had stated that ‘till date, no human cases of infection with influenza A(H5N8) have been detected”.

In July, India reported its first death due to the bird flu. An 11-year-old boy from Haryana was found to be infected with the H5N1 strain of the virus.

With inputs from agencies


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