Bird flu kills 350 birds amidst swine flu scare in UP

While the swine flu hasn't give up, yet another type of flu has started making headlines. The state of Uttar Pradesh has reported the death of 350 birds, including chicken and ducks, on March 6-7. The state government has raised a bird flu alert following an outbreak of avian influenza in Amethi. (Read: Bird flu alert: Import of poultry products banned in UP)

All divisional commissioners and district magistrates have been directed to initiate preventive measures in their areas to minimise possible adverse effects of bird flu. An expert team has issued a warning after confirming that the birds died due to a mystery disease, owing to a highly pathogenic avian influenza. The incident occurred in the villages of Chandgarh and Sare Ka Purwa in Shukulbazaa area. (Read: Bird flu in Kerala: State on high alert for spread of H5N1 avian influenza)

'DMs should form a joint team comprising representatives of health, animal husbandry, panchayati raj and urban planning departments so that an action plan for containing the disease could be rolled out,' the alert said. The Chief Secretary also directed effective surveillance of poultry farms, particularly those near water bodies.

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Districts along Nepal and Bihar borders have been asked to furnish a daily report of action taken to curb avian influenza. The outbreak of bird flu cases came at a time when the state is battling with swine flu, which is raging in 35 districts and has so far claimed 17 lives.The maximum number of 898 H1N1 cases have been reported from Lucknow till yesterday.

To prevent bird flu from spreading to humans, one should be aware of its symptoms and general precautionary measures.

Bird Flu symptoms

They can vary from person to person but the infection begins with normal flu like signs such as cough, fever, headache, runny nose, breathing difficulties, diarrhea and muscle ache. Sneezing, sore throat, loss of appetite and insomnia are other symptoms that are commonly observed.

With the progression of the disease, the infected person may suffer from complications like pneumonia. Respiratory failure. where the lungs cannot provide enough oxygen to the rest of the body, is also one of the complications. Multiple organ failure is another fatal complication that is seen.

How are humans infected?

  • The virus can be transferred to humans from the water fowl when infected fowls are handled.
  • Inhaling the aerosolized material or dried dust from the droppings or beddings of infected birds causes bird flu.
  • Direct contact with droppings of infected birds is also a way of transmission. Also swimming in water, which has been contaminated with bird droppings, transfers the infection to humans.
  • Coming in contact with nasal secretions of infected birds.
  • Another source of infection is live markets where poultry is sold or kept in crowded and unsanitary conditions.

The incidence of human to human transmission of the virus is less as compared to other human flu viruses, but precautions should be taken to prevent the infection.

General precautions one should take to prevent transmission of the virus include -

  • Washing hands regularly, especially after visiting the toilet and before handling food.
  • Covering the mouth with a tissue while sneezing or coughing.
  • Using tissue papers over traditional cloth handkerchiefs to wipe a runny nose and disposing the tissues immediately.
  • Avoiding public areas when you are sick.
  • Avoiding contact with dead birds.
  • Taking proper care of your pet if it has a tendency to catch wild birds. If you have a pet bird, you should make sure it doesn t come in contact with other wild birds.
  • If you are travelling to countries that are affected with bird flu, avoid visiting live animal markets or poultry farms. Also do not bring back live birds or their feathers from the infected country.
  • While cooking meat and eggs, one must ensure that is it completely cooked. Bird flu is not transferred by eating fully cooked poultry or eggs. Although, eating partially cooked or runny eggs should be completely avoided.
  • Proper kitchen hygiene should be maintained and vegetables and meat should be stored together.

With inputs from PTI

Image source: Getty Images

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