Bird flu back in India; cases reported from Karnataka

Bird flu, the highly contagious avian disease, is back in India, the Indian agriculture ministry has cautioned. The World Organisation for Animal Health said, an outbreak of the disease has been reported near Bengaluru in Karnataka, according to Reuters.

As per the report, the H5N8 virus was detected on 26 December among birds in the village of Dasarahalli, which killed 9 out of 951 birds.

The Paris-based OIE said the other birds were culled, in a report posted on its website. But details of the type of birds involved, have not been furnished.

An outbreak of the H5N1 virus in India in 2006 had led to many cases of ill-health. Bird flu, also known as avian influenza or avian flu is a kind of influenza that is caused by viruses adapted to birds and is transmitted to humans through contact with infected bird faeces, nasal secretions, or secretions from the mouth or eyes.

According to health experts, preventing contact with infected birds and not consuming under cooked poultry food helps keep the disease away.

Meanwhile, the Bhopal-based National Institute for High Security Animal Diseases has confirmed the infection as the highly pathogenic avian influenza serotype H5N8, the Union agriculture ministry told the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) yesterday.

The report has identified 26 December as the starting date of the event and 30 December as the date of confirmation of the infection. According to the report the "case fatality rate" was 100 per cent, which shows the lethal nature of the virus, the report said.

According to the report, India's control measures include disposal of dead birds and disinfection of the affected zones, intensified surveillance outside the containment and protection zones, and controls on movement of poultry birds.

Scientists from the Bhopal laboratory who conducted genetic analysis of the H5N8 viruses isolated from affected birds in Delhi and Gwalior zoos suggest that winter birds migrating from China or Siberia might have brought the virus into India.