Bird flu: Virus identified as H5N1, vigilance stepped up

Thursday, Nov 27, 2014,19:50 IST By metrovaartha A A A

Alappuzha/Thiruvananthapuram | The strain of avian influenza that caused deaths of thousands of duck in the three districts of Kerala has been identified as H5N1, which could also spread to human beings though the infection caused by it can be cured, officials said today.
According to a senior official in the Directorate of Health Services, the virus afflicting the birds had been identified as H5N1, which could also spread to human beings though there was no need for panic as infection caused by it was curable.
There is no need for panic about it. Only that people have to be careful. The infection caused by H5N1 can be cured and the medicines for that are available, he said. Following the identification of the virus strain, the authorities have stepped up the vigil. Meanwhile, the culling of ducks continued in the affected areas of Alappuzha and two adjoining districts, mainly in Kuttanad, as per the protocol laid down by the World Health Organisation.
The district administration and medical authorities held a review meeting in Alappuzha and worked out measures to step up surveillance and awareness drive around the affected areas. Teams of Rapid Response Force, comprising personnel of the Animal Husbandry and Health departments, culled hundreds of ducks and burnt them.
More squads had been pressed into service today for the task. The culling was also taken up in the affected areas of Kottayam and Pathnamthitta districts. The state government had yesterday announced compensation of Rs 100 and Rs 200 per bird of less than two months and above two months of growth respectively in view of the huge loss suffered by the farmers. A three-member central team of experts, one of them from the National Centre for Disease Control, visited the affected areas yesterday to submit a report to the Centre.
The outbreak of the infection, which claimed over thousands of ducks in water-logged Kuttanad in Alappuzha and the adjoining areas since last week, has caused a huge loss to poultry rearers, most of them medium and marginal farmers.
Located close to backwaters with vast stretches of paddy fields, duck rearing has been a supplementary activity for farmers in the area for generations.
The outbreak of the disease has also cast a shadow over tourism as the area is the hub of houseboats, which is a fast emerging segment of tourism.