India ‘free’ of bird flu

India declared itself free from the highly contagious avian influenza on November 12, but city-based National Institute of Virology (NIV) will remain vigilant and continue virological and serological surveys for evidence of infection.
Also known as bird flu, a highly pathogenic version of an avian influenza virus (H5N1) began to emerge in a number of countries in Southeast Asia in 2003. The subsequent spread of this virus to nearly all parts of the world has raised concerns about a possible pandemic.
An official statement from the departmemt of animal husbandary, which functions under the agriculture ministry, declared that India is free from notifiable avian influenza (H5N1) and has notified it to World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE).
“Presently, there are no cases of avian influenza in the country. However, there is a need for virological survey of birds and animals, and constantly monitoring them,” said Dr Mandeep Chadha, deputy director, NIV.
In 2009, an outbreak of H1N1 swine flu pandemic in India killed at least 100 people. Subsequently, every year there are smaller outbreaks of the disease, and monitoring is important due to emerging influenza virus such as H7N9 strain of avian flu.
On August 5, an outbreak of bird flu was confirmed at Poultry Production Unit, College of Veterinary Sciences and Animal Husbandry at Anjora in Durg and Government Poultry Farm at Jagdalpur in Chhattisgarh. However, it was brought under control when the Centre alerted states and union territories to take all possible measures to contain it from spreading.
Avian influenza is most often spread by contact between infected migratory birds and healthy local birds. It may also be spread indirectly through contact with contaminated equipment and materials. The avian influenza virus is found in secretions from the infected birds and is also excreted in their droppings.Humans can catch bird flu directly through close contact with live infected birds and those who work with infected chickens are most at risk

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