In order to create an immunity belt between the bird flu hit districts and the states that share their borders, the Centre has ordered culling of poultry birds in four states adjacent the affected districts of west Bengal.
In four states- Bihar, Jharkhand, Assam, and Orissa- un-infected poultry birds will be culled to prevent the spread of the pathogenic H5N1. The decision to cull the poultry was taken after a technical committee of experts from the Department of Animal Husbandry, Health, and the Indian Council of Agriculture sent recommendation to the Centre in this effect.
The farmers, whose poultry has been culled in these four states, will be given compensation. The states have been asked to prepare an estimate of the number of poultry that would be culled from selected districts.
Earlier, the West Bengal government had also announced to provide compensation to poultry farmers whose birds have died or would have to be culled, but only to those, who comes under the affected districts.
Avian influenza is an infection caused by viruses. These viruses occur naturally particularly among migratory-waterfowl and ducks- birds. The virus generally does not affect these adapted host birds, but cause the infection to domesticate chickens and ducks. The influenza virus mutate into a deadly form that has the capacity to kill over 90 percent of the entire flock and spread to other flocks.
Birds infected with the influenza virus gives shelter to this in their saliva, anus, and nasal secretions. Domesticated birds become infected with the deadly virus through direct contact with infected waterfowl or through infected poultry. Besides, the contaminated dirt cages or materials also spread the communicable disease.
Effect on Human
Although the virus does not easily intersect to humans, yet some confirmed cases of human infection have been reported since 1997. Those humans infected easily with the virus, which comes in direct contact with sick or dead infected poultry or surface infected with secretion or excretion from infected birds.
Often, flu viruses that cross from animals to humans originate in areas where people live in proximity to chickens and pigs. That is because pigs are susceptible to infection with both avian and human viruses and so are an ideal “mixing bowl” in which viruses can exchange genes. Dogs and cats are also susceptible.
Symptoms in Humans
Symptoms in humans infected with flu are normally the same like human influenza like fever, cough, sore throat, and muscle aches to eye infections, pneumonia, and other severe life threatening complication.
Prevention by awareness
People can be saved from infection if they are imparted with knowledge of how they can avoid the deadly disease.
The greatest risk factor for bird flu seems to be contact with sick birds or with surfaces contaminated by their feathers, saliva, or droppings.
Young children are more likely to have contact with sick birds or to play on ground contaminated with droppings.
Destroying or culling sick or exposed birds – primarily chicken and ducks is the first line of defence.
Persons exposed to avian influenza infected or potentially infected poultry are recommended to follow good infection control practices like hand washing and use of personal protective equipment like gloves and masks.
Influenza viruses can survive on the following circumstances: Over 30 days at 0 degree C and 6 days at 37 degree C i.e. one week at human body temperature.
It is advisable to procure live poultry only and to wash cut pieces in hot water. Poultry have to be cooked to 70 degree C to kill the H5N1 virus.
Eggs must be washed well in water and cooked till whites and yolks are firm, hard-boiled or fried.
Feathers, dungs etc. of dead or killed chicken and ducks have to be collected using gloves and masks and they have to be buried below 3 feet.
While addressing a problem like outbreak of bird flu we should keep in mind that an all around effort through community mobilization, efforts of the government and other agencies, success could be achieved. Government’s effort can only be successful if strong information and awareness is spread to people, who could then avoid such deadly disease.
Dipl.-Ing. Wilfried SoddemannFebruary 4, 2008 at 12:00 AM