Bird flu:H5N1 confirmed in Kottayam

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Bird flu

The Kottayam district officials asked the residents to be alert as it has been confirmed that the strain of the Avian Influenza that killed birds in the district is the contagious H5N1, which could also spread to human beings.

The tests of samples of dead birds from Kumarakom and Aymanam conducted in Bhopal Hightech Laboratory confirmed the type of the virus.

So far, over 5,000 birds have been culled in the district. The Health Department officials have also asked the people to drink only purified water in the wake of Bird flu.

Meanwhile, Health Minister V.S. Sivakumar in a press conference in Thiruvananthapuram said that farmers will get the compensation for their birds from Friday. He also assured that transportation of the birds from the affected areas will be stopped.

It was on Thursday that the virus afflicting the birds in Alappuzha had been identified as H5N1. However, health department officials said that there was no need for panic as infection caused by it was curable.

Not an airborne disease

The infection can take place through birds’ bodily fluids, blood and bird droppings. It is not an airborne disease, the officials added.

Meanwhile, the culling of infected ducks will continue in Alappuzha on Friday. Fifty more Rapid Action Force personnel have been deputed for culling from Friday and they are equipped with preventive medicine and protective gear.

In Kuttanad, though the protective gears were supplied to the ones involved in culling, it has come to the attention of the officials that residents are not using masks or gloves while dealing with the affected birds. The Health Ministry has given strict orders to make sure that they put on protective clothings.

No human case in India since 2003

The World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) too identified the virus strain as H5N1 and added that it was not concerned about the situation, because India had faced outbreaks of the virus before. No human case has been reported since at least 2003 in the country.

The H5N1 strain can be fatal to humans. It caused the deaths of nearly 400 people and hundreds of millions of poultry after it spread from Asia into Europe and Africa in 2005 and 2006.

Since 2006, India has culled 6.4 million birds because of bird flu, OIE Director General Bernard Vallat told Reuters this week. The latest outbreaks were not a particular cause for concern, he said.

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