Avian Flu Fears Grip India

INDIA - So-far unexplained deaths of wild birds are suspected in the state of Haryana to have been caused by avian influenza, and there are a number of suspected human cases of H5N1 influenza in Chandigarh, where the infection has been confirmed in waterfowl.
calendar icon 23 December 2014
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After a dead duck in the Sukhna lake in Chandigarh was found carrying the H5N1 avian virus and over a hundred water birds were culled last week, the bird flu scare has spread across the northern state of Haryana, according to The Hindu.

Crows have been found dead in large numbers from Pinjore and Jagadhari, as have 10 migratory bar-headed geese in the plains of Jind.

The state has sounded an alert for avian flu.

These developments come at a time when a large number of migratory birds are visiting Haryana and the nearby states, reports The Hindu.

Experts say some species of migratory birds in the state are known to carry the virus. While these birds may not themselves die of it, they can pass on the virus to other species.

Haryana'a Health Minister, Anil Vij, has said a team had been sent to Jind to take stock of the situation.

On the crow mortalities, the state's acting chief wildlife warden, R.K. Sapra has told Times of India: "We have sent five crow carcasses and the 10 geese to the RDDL [Regional Disease Diagnostic Laboratory]. I cannot state what could be the cause of these deaths. It could be any of the reasons that we suspect. Only tests will determine the true cause of mortality. But to be on the safe side, we had sounded an alert for avian flu across the state a week back. Samples from migratory birds are also being taken from wetlands such as Sultanpur and Bhindawas for testing."

A total of 32 crows have died here, according to the newspaper. That is the only bird species to have been hit by the abnormal mortality at this spot.

The deaths have been played down and attributed to other causes but the Times of India report suggests avian flu may have been the cause.

According to Chandigarh Tribune, a two-year-old boy from Sector 35 in the city was referred to the bird flu clinic at Government Multi-Specialty Hospital (GMSH), Sector 16, while eight individuals have walked into the OPD flu area voluntarily, suspecting flu symptoms.

A total of 5,200 houses were surveyed in areas falling within a 3-km radius of Sukhna Lake for assessing the transmission of the H5N1 virus among humans.

Further Reading

You can visit the Avian Flu page by clicking here.

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