New Delhi, January 6 : Considering the possibility of spread of avian influenza virus or bird flu to humans and other domesticated animals and birds, the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change has directed all states and Union Territories (UTs) to take all possible steps for containing the spread of the disease.
As per the government's notification, the Ministry asked the States/UTs to take up surveillance and monitoring of birds, for any signs of disease, and take appropriate measures for controlling it, on priority.
This Ministry vide letter dated January 3, 2021, had also forwarded generic guidelines relating to avian influenza to the Chief Wildlife Wardens of all States/UTs and had requested for taking immediate steps for containing the spread of the disease. Earlier today, the Ministry of Fisheries, Animal Husbandry and Dairying confirmed avian influenza, cases have been reported from Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh and Kerala.
It was informed after the samples from these states were tested positive by the Indian Council of Agricultural Research-National Institute of High-Security Animal Diseases (ICAR-NIHSAD).
Notably, bird flu 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. In India, the disease spreads mainly by migratory birds coming into India during winter months i.e. from September - October to February - March. The secondary spread by human handling (through fomites) cannot be ruled out," the Ministry had said.
In view of a threat of a global outbreak of AI, the Department of Animal Husbandry and Dairying (DAHD) 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 country.