Alapuzha: After the Department of Animal Husbandry confirmed Avian influenza (Bird Flu) in Kuttanad, the government has ordered for massive culling of the birds and other poultry in affected areas. The Animal husbandry department has also instructed to the poultry farmers and slaughterhouse workers to take precautionary steps.
According to animal husbandry department, the avian influenza was confirmed following lab tests at the National Institute of High Security Animal Diseases, Bhopal. However, the department is yet to get reports about the sub-type of the virus to ascertain whether it would affect humans.
Thousands of ducks were found dead in Kuttanad in the last few days. Kuttanad, spread over three districts, has a duck population of 6 lakhs. Deaths have been reported from two villages in the recent weeks. As per the decision, all poultry in one square kilometer from the affected villages would be culled immediately. Besides, the sale of duck has been banned in Kuttanad and Ambalapuzha taluks in Alapuzha.
Meanwhile, the poultry farmers have expressed concern over the situation. To this, talking to the media, Health Minister V S Sivakumar assured that the situation is under control. The officials have decided to collect samples from all birds, including the migratory ones, for analysis.
Kerala Agriculture Minister K P Mohanan said, “Preventive steps would be soon initiated to contain the disease.” Veterinary kits would be distributed in affected areas and farmers would be enlightened about the threat, he added. The Chief Minister has also called for an urgent meeting on Tuesday to discuss the matter.
According to World Health Organisation, most avian influenza viruses do not affect humans. However, some are zoonotic( that can infect humans). The most well known example is the avian influenza subtype H5N1 viruses currently circulating in poultry in parts of Asia and northeast Africa, which have caused disease and deaths since 1997.
Other avian influenza subtypes, including H7N7 and H9N2, have also infected people. Some of these infections have been very severe and some have resulted in deaths, but many infections have been mild or even subclinical in humans.
Indian Medical Association has rushed a team to Alapuzha as well. In Kuttanad, known as Kerala’s rice-bowl, duck farming season begins in September and peaks during Christmas.