Centre alerts states about possible outbreak of Avian Influenza

Animal husbandry departments of the states and Union Territories (UT) have asked to initiate public health action as per the national action plan for Avian influenza

Outbreak of Avian Influenza

New Delhi: The Centre has asked all states to share information regarding any unusual deaths of domestic birds and poultry with the state’s animal husbandry department so that prompt action could be taken to check the outbreak of avian influenza.

A joint advisory has been issued by the National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) and Department of Animal Husbandry and Dairying in this regard on May 25. Animal husbandry departments of the states and Union Territories (UT) have asked to initiate public health action as per the national action plan for Avian influenza.

Cases of Avian influenza were reported from four states–Andhra Pradesh (Nellore), Maharashtra (Nagpur), Kerala (Alappuzha, Kottayam, and Pathanamthitta districts), and Jharkhand (Ranchi)—in poultry last year.

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“Given that Avian Influenza (H5N1) infection is highly pathogenic and has the potential to be transmitted to humans, it is imperative to take all necessary measures to minimize and prevent the spread of this infection,” the joint advisory said.

The advisory further said that Avian Influenza virus (also known as bird flu virus) is normally maintained in circulation in nature among mainly migratory birds and is known to cause outbreaks among domesticated poultry birds probably due to spill over events when migratory birds come in contact with poultry. H5N1 virus has caused multiple outbreaks among poultry in the world. Both types of viruses (HPAI and LPAI) may occasionally affect other mammalian species, including humans.

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“Human infections are primarily acquired through direct contact with infected poultry or contaminated environments. The states have been advised to strengthen biosecurity measures in all poultry establishments, zoos, poultry markets, etc. after conducting a thorough assessment,” the letter said.

“Comprehensive biosecurity assessments on all poultry farms are recommended. Access to farms should be restricted and stringent hygiene protocols, including the use of disinfectant footbaths and protective clothing, should be enforced. Measures to prevent contact between wild birds and domestic poultry should be implemented,” it stated.

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The state health agencies have been advised to elicit and share information, educate and communicate with general public regarding preventive measures such as minimizing the handling of dead or sick birds with bare hands and without adequate respiratory protection and following food safety measures while consuming products of animal origin.

The state governments and UTs have been told to share information timely and ensure strict compliance with the SARI surveillance guidelines of the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW). Besides, the have been emphasised on conducting surveillance for suspected human cases and providing health check-ups for cullers and poultry workers, with a duration of 10 days of its occurrence and resort to recommended measures for chemoprophylaxis, management, and use of personal protective equipment (PPE) should be implemented.

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