Is another Pandemic affecting India?

After the COVID pandemic, India has been hit with yet another viral dilemma. Many states in India are now affected by bird flu. Seven states have confirmed cases while a few more have sent their samples for testing. Some of the worst affected states include Himachal Pradesh, Rajasthan, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, New Delhi and Maharashtra. Around 1 lakh poultry birds have died in Haryana, 2000 migratory birds in Himachal Pradesh, and 250 crows in Rajasthan.

Avian influenza has, in the past affected both humans and birds but this time, there is has been no case of bird to human transmission reported yet.

People who work in proximity of the infected alive or dead animals have a greater risk of contracting the bird flu. Usually, it does not spread from human to human as per WHO. Although no cases of human transmission have been found yet, if the virus mutates and alters their shape, it might lead to another pandemic.

The virus can’t affect humans if the meat is cleaned and cooked properly. This virus usually dies at proper cooking temperatures.

In birds, influenza infects the gut while in humans it directly attacks the respiratory tract and causes Pneumonia, and Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome (ARDS). The symptoms in humans include fever, cough, sore throat, abdominal pain, diarrhoea etc. Once transmitted, the mortality rate is 60% in human beings.

Samples were tested positive at ICAR – National Institute of High-Security animal diseases. They have confirmed the presence of H5N1 and H5N8 in the samples. H5N8, a less lethal strain of the virus has been detected in the majority of cases.

According to WHO, Avian influenza is caused by a highly contagious viral disease caused by Influenza Type A virus.

The Environmental Ministry has directed the states to form committees to monitor and contain the spread of bird flu. More than thousands of birds have died since December due to the pandemic. The ministry has issued alerts and has enhanced surveillance around zoos, poultries, farms etc.