The new year has been welcomed with high hopes and the unkindly return of the Bird Flu also called the Avian Influenza or H5N1. The origin of bird flu can be traced to the late 1990s when the outbreak was first noticed in geese in China. Bird flu was labeled “highly contagious” by scientists and rapidly spread among birds and poultry. The reason cases continue to rise and bird deaths are being reported is because infected migratory birds become carriers of the disease, thus spreading it across continents.
In the wake of the current pandemic situation, the symptoms of bird flu are similar to any other flu – fever, sore throat, muscle pain, coughing, nausea and vomiting, and in aggravated cases, eye infections, diarrhea and pneumonia. The treatment is the same as the treatment of any other flu which includes broad-spectrum antibiotics and influenza antiviral drugs.
As of now, eight states in India have confirmed cases of bird flu – Kerala, Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Himachal Pradesh, Haryana, Gujarat, and Madhya Pradesh. If the COVID19 pandemic has taught us anything, it is certainly is that there is no room for rumours, hence burying hens or shooting birds is not a viable solution to control bird flu. Thus, enlisted below are some precautions that one should take:
1. Most strains of bird flu do not affect humans but the disease can be transmitted through infected bird faeces or secretions, which is why direct contact should be avoided at all costs.
2. Consumption of poultry and poultry products is safe when it is cooked as it destroys the virus at 100 degrees. World Health Organisation confirms that proper cooking inactivates the virus present in eggs and poultry.
3. If you spot a dead bird, please do not touch the bird with bare hands and immediately reach out to local authorities or Forest Department who will remove the bird from the area.
4. Bird feeders or water bowls for birds should be kept outside the house and handled while wearing gloves and masks.
5. Do not consume half-boiled eggs or undercooked chicken.
6. There have been no reports of the flu being transmitted to humans, as WHO confirms, thus it is not wise to spread rumours that claim so, otherwise.
Wildlife SOS recently conducted a training session with the Maharashtra Forest Department on the protocols for bird flu. Avian influenza and its origins were discussed in great detail while emphasizing the safety protocols that need to be ensured when dealing with dead birds. The symptoms of bird flu were also discussed and over 30 forest officers participated in this training workshop.
The affected states are on high alert but the authorities are working very hard to find a plausible solution to the same. Please follow necessary safety protocols and the above-mentioned precautions for larger public safety.
In case you spot an injured or sick bird in your locality, immediately reach out to Wildlife SOS rescue hotlines operating out of Delhi NCR, Agra, Mathura, and Vadodara.