The outbreak of avian flu among poultry made a comeback in Kerala’s Alappuzha district on Tuesday after a new case was reported in a farm in Kainakary area, prompting authorities to begin another round of mass culling of birds, The Indian Express reported. This was the second time the disease has been confirmed in the district this year.
Kerala Animal Husbandry Department Director KM Dileep told the newspaper that a subtype of the Influenza A virus, commonly known as bird flu, was detected in a sample sent for testing to the National Institute of High Security Animal Diseases lab in Bhopal. The sample was taken from a dead hen at a poultry farm in the Kuttanad belt.
District officials told The Times of India at least 500 birds, including ducks, have died due to the bird flu in Kainakary, so far. Alappuzha district collector held a high-level meeting to take stock of all the arrangements to bring the disease under control.
Dileep estimated that around 1,600 hens and 700 ducks will be culled in a one-km radius of the farm. “Teams have been sent to visit the fields today itself and complete culling operations by tomorrow [Thursday],” he said. “Sanitisation efforts will follow in a 10-km radius of the farm.”
A standard operating procedure was handed over to the personnel selected for the culling of birds. The carcasses of the culled birds will be burned. The district collector has directed Kainakary grama panchayat authorities to provide firewood, diesel and sugar for the process. All those involved in the culling operations will wear personal protection equipment kits.
Kerala had reported its first cases of bird flu in the first week of January, when five out of eight samples sent to the Bhopal lab had come back positive. The cases were detected among ducks in four panchayats in Kottayam and one panchayat in Alappuzha district.
The rapid response teams of Alappuzha administration had then culled 49,958 birds, most of them ducks. This resulted in a massive blow to the poultry farmers in the region, as authorities also destroyed 3,22,550 eggs collected from the affected areas. The government had promised compensation for the birds that would be culled.
Meanwhile, new cases were also reported on Tuesday in Maharashtra in the districts of Nanded (Chikhari and Talahari villages), Satara (Marai Wadi), Latur (Davangaon), Nagpur (Waranga), Gadchiroli (Gadchiroli), Mumbai (Kalyan, Thane) and Beed (Warati), reported the Hindustan Times.
The Centre on January 18 said that the outbreak of avian influenza or bird flu had been confirmed in 14 states. Five states confirmed the infection in poultry birds, while nine others found it in crows, migratory birds or wild birds.
Avian influenza is an illness that usually only affects birds. Cases of human bird flu infections are due to contact with infected poultry or surfaces that are contaminated with infected bird excretions such as saliva, nasal secretions or feces, according to CNN.
While H5N1 poses no apparent threat to humans, its highly pathogenic strains can be deadly to domestic poultry and sometimes, wild birds. This has had a devastating impact on poultry industry as authorities introduce restrictions to contain the spread of the contagion.
Surinder Khanna, a poultry consultant, told the Hindustan Times that the unofficial estimates of losses “amount to possibly Rs 3,000 crore” so far in India.