India declared itself free from the highly contagious avian influenza (H5N1) or bird flu from 5 September 2016. The declaration was made by the Department of Animal Husbandry under the Agriculture Ministry.
The Department in a statement said that it had notified the same to the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE). However, it also stressed that there is a need for continued surveillance.
To make sure that this H5N1 free status is maintained, the union government has asked the chief Secretaries of states to continued surveillance especially in the vulnerable areas bordering infected countries and in areas visited by migratory birds.
The outbreak of the avian influenza was notified on 9 May 2016 at Humnabad, Bidar district, Karnataka. In areas on the one-kilometre radius of the outbreak location, the government took measures, including culling, disinfection and clean-up, to contain the spread of avian influenza.
Bird flu affects mainly the domestic poultry. The disease spreads from infected birds to other winged creatures through contact with nasal and respiratory secretions and also due to contamination of feed and water.
Avian influenza (AI) is an infectious viral disease of birds. AI viruses are divided into 2 groups based on their ability to cause disease in poultry: high pathogenicity or low pathogenicity. Highly pathogenic viruses result in high death rates (up to 100% mortality within 48 hours) in some poultry species. Low pathogenicity viruses also cause outbreaks in poultry but are not generally associated with severe disease.
• Most avian influenza viruses do not infect humans; however some, such as A(H5N1) and A(H7N9), have caused serious infections in people.
• Outbreaks of AI in poultry may raise global public health concerns due to their effect on poultry populations, their potential to cause serious disease in people, and their pandemic potential.
• Reports of highly pathogenic AI epidemics in poultry, such as A(H5N1), can seriously impact local and global economies and international trade.
• The majority of human cases of A(H5N1) and A(H7N9) infection have been associated with direct or indirect contact with infected live or dead poultry. There is no evidence that the disease can be spread to people through properly cooked food.
• Controlling the disease in animals is the first step in decreasing risks to humans.
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