It seems the virus has turned its focus on birds, and it shows up a large number of birds have been found dead because of this bird flu. It is a hard time for all these birds as they are affected by this bird flu just like humans affected by the coronavirus. It is spreading rapidly among the birds which makes it a highly dreadful disease among these birds.
What is this bird flu?
Influenza Type A virus is known to the causative agent for this contagious viral disease. This flu was first detected in geese in China in the year 1996. To stop its spread, all the infected birds were culled.
How did it spread?
When the infected migratory aquatic birds which act as carriers of Influenza A virus shed their droppings, they start spreading to others. Occasionally it seems to spread among mammals like pigs, horses, cats, and dogs.
Can it spread to humans?
Whenever people live in close contact with the infected livestock or near dead bird they have high chances of getting affected by this disease. In 1997, a person from Hong Kong was affected by this disease and reported the first case of this disease. It was the deadly H5N1 strain of the virus that affected him. From then, several strains of this virus namely H5N2 and H9N2 started to spread from animals to humans. World Health Organization (WHO) has recorded 701 cases of H5N1 and among them, deaths accounted for nearly 407, during the year 2003 to 2014. Around 6 out of 10 confirmed cases of the H5N1 virus among humans reported the death. But it has not got the scope of spreading from people to people, it can only jump from animals to humans. However, if this virus mutates it becomes easily transmissible and has a lot of potentials to cause another pandemic.
Symptoms in humans:
In humans, H5N1 seems to cause severe respiratory illnesses like pneumonia or Acute Respiratory Syndrome. The early symptoms include fever, cough, sore throat, and sometimes abdominal pain and diarrhea.
How can humans prevent this?
According to the reports of WHO, this virus is sensitive to heat and it cannot spread when the food is well-cooked. So, well-cooked food cannot transmit this disease and it is one of the precautionary measures against this disease. People working with livestock are advised to use PPEs and follow hygiene. Also, many people are after this culling practice to stop its spread. The treatment is done with antiviral drugs especially oseltamivir.
Its condition in India:
In 2006, it showed its first major outbreak in Maharashtra and Gujarat. In 2008 and 2014 outbreaks were reported in West Bengal and Kerala respectively. During 2006 and 2015, India reported nearly 25 episodes of H5N1 bird flu across 15 states. But there are no cases of humans in India so far. In September 2019, India declared itself free from bird flu. However now, it has been reported to be spreading more rapidly in some of the states of India. As a part of this, some people in Kerala volunteered to cull the infected birds and many bird sanctuaries have been closed by the government. This outbreak is confirmed in Delhi, Maharashtra, Kerala, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh, Haryana, Gujarat, and Uttar Pradesh so far and a large number of crows, pigeons, mynas, herons, and many birds are reported dead because of this bird flu.
Effects of this bird flu:
This bird flu has instilled fear in the mind of people and as an effect the prices of chicken and eggs crash. This has great potential to put the poultry industry in danger. In India, on an average scale of a month, people consume 30,000 crore poultry birds which are more than Tamil Nadu’s people population. And the prices of broiler chicken have crashed from around Rs 82 to Rs 58 per kg in Maharashtra, Rs 94 to Rs 65 in Gujarat, and Rs 80 to Rs 70 in Tamil Nadu in the effect of this, Since last Wednesday.
So, this is high time to stay alert to these circumstances and keep ourselves protected against them. The government has also taken many steps to stop this spread, like closing zoos, bird sanctuaries, parks with lakes where lakes spread this disease to other birds.