Ujjain: Even as India continues to witness a downward trend of fresh Covid-19 infections, another eminent danger appears to have left several states baffled as hundreds of birds have died due to bird flu across the country.
Bird flu, also called avian influenza, has come as a double whammy for Kerala, Madhya Pradesh (particularly Indore, Mandsaur and Agar districts), Himachal Pradesh, Rajasthan, Haryana and Gujarat which are already fighting their biggest battle against the novel Corona virus pandemic.
Epidemiologist and National Community Health Programme, Advisor Dr Naresh Purohit said that Avian influenza, colloquially known as bird flu, is a disease which is caused by Flu Type-A viruses. The viruses are found naturally in wild aquatic birds and can infect poultry birds.
The viruses are spread through bird droppings. The viruses are of two categories: low pathogenic avian influenza (LPAI)-A which is not fatal while (HPAI)-A is severe. Of the numerous strains of HPAI viruses, human infections are caused by H5, H7 and H9 viruses.
Impact on Humans
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), there have been 861 human cases with 455 deaths between 2003 and 2020.Migratory birds like wild geese transmit the virus to domestic birds during their migration. Dr Purohit said, while rare, bird flu has been known to infect humans with symptoms ranging from conjunctivitis, flu, to severe respiratory illness and even respiratory failure. The virus is mostly transmitted to humans if an individual breathes in virus is in the air or when they touch a surface contaminated with virus on it and then touch their mouth, eyes or nose. He cautioned that despite not being contagious to humans, bird flu is severe for humans.
The WHO states that properly cooked meat does not transmit the virus to humans with rare case of human transmission after eating raw meat. Thoroughly cooking poultry meat and ensuring it is not pink when eaten will result in the virus being destroyed. Eggs also should not be consumed raw. Meat of animals, which have died due to a disease, also should be avoided. Dr Purohit advised that proper precautions have to be taken when visiting poultry markets. Individuals should avoid coming in contact with poultry and ensure they do not touch surfaces that might have been contaminated by the virus through droppings and nasal discharges.