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Ministry of Fisheries, Animal Husbandry & Dairying releases Status of Avian Influenza in India

Pritam Kashyap
Pritam Kashyap
Ministry of Fisheries, Animal Husbandry & Dairying releases Status of Avian Influenza in India

Avian Influenza (AI) viruses have been circulating worldwide for centuries with four known major outbreaks recorded in the last century. India notified the first outbreak of avian influenza in 2006.   

Infection in humans is not yet reported in India though the disease is zoonotic. There is no direct evidence that AI viruses can be transmitted to humans via the consumption of contaminated poultry products.

Implementing management practices that incorporate biosecurity principles, personal hygiene, and cleaning and disinfection protocols, as well as cooking and processing standards, are effective means of controlling the spread of the AI viruses. 

In India, the disease spreads mainly by migratory birds coming into India during winter months i.e. from September to October and to February to March. The secondary spread by human handling cannot be ruled out. 

Given a threat of the global outbreak of AI, the Department of Animal Husbandry and Dairying (DAHD), Government of India had prepared an action plan in 2005 which was revised in 2006, 2012, 2015 and 2021 for the guidance of State Government for prevention, control and containment of Avian Influenza in the nation.  

Following the post-operation surveillance plan (POSP) after completion of Avian Influenza outbreak control in 2020 and containment operation at different epicentres, the country freedom from AI was declared i.e.  September 30, 2020. 

Because of the experience regarding the reports of the disease in the winter season, periodic advisories have been issued to all states/UTs before the commencement of winter for keeping necessary vigil, enhancing surveillance, keeping strategic reserves of supplies (PPE kits, etc.), and preparedness to handle eventualities and IEC for public awareness.  

Other support provided by the Department to the States/UTs include: 

  • Technical support from referral lab i.e. ICAR-NIHSAD, Bhopal
  • Funding support to States/UTs to undertake culling and compensation
  • Funding to states under ASCAD scheme
  • Training of the veterinary workforce
  • Support for strengthening RDDLs / CDDL
  • The last preparatory advisory/communication was issued to all States/UTs on October 22, 2020.

 Present outbreak of AI 

After confirmation of positive samples from ICAR-NIHSAD, AI has been reported from the following States (at 12 epicentres) – 

  • Rajasthan(crow) – Baran, Kota, Jhalawar
  • Madhya Pradesh(crow) – Mandsaur, Indore, Malwa
  • Himachal Pradesh (migratory birds) - Kangra
  • Kerala (poultry-duck) - Kottayam, Allapuzha(4 epicentres) 

Accordingly, an advisory has been issued each to the States of Rajasthan and MP on January 01, 2021, to avoid further spread of the infection. As per the information received from the State of Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan control measures is being taken as per the guidelines of the National Action Plan of Avian Influenza.  

Another advisory has been issued on January 05, 2021, to HP where the State has been advised to take measures to avoid further spread of disease to poultry. As per the report received, Kerala has already initiated control and containment operations from January 05, 2021, at epicentres and culling process, is in operation. 

Department of Animal Husbandry & Dairying, Government of India has also set up a control room in New Delhi to keep watch on the situation and to take stock daily of preventive and control measures undertaken by State authorities. 

The measures suggested to the affected States to contain the disease and prevent further spread as per the Action Plan on Avian Influenza include strengthening the biosecurity of poultry farms, disinfection of affected areas, proper disposal of dead birds/carcasses, timely collection and submission of samples for confirmation and further surveillance, intensification of surveillance plan as well as the general guidelines for the prevention of disease spread from affected birds to poultry and human.  

Coordination with the forest department for reporting any unusual mortality of birds was also suggested to the States. The other states were also requested to keep a vigil on any unusual mortality amongst birds and to report immediately to take necessary measures.  

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