Centre rushes teams to Kerala, Haryana affected by Avian influenza as precautionary measure

The Union ministry of health and family welfare has deployed multi-disciplinary teams to states affected by the Avian Influenza as a precautionary measure, officials said on Wednesday.

The Union health ministry said in a statement that the teams have been deployed in Haryana’s Panchkula district and in Alappuzha and Kottayam districts of Kerala.

“The two multi-disciplinary teams comprising experts from National Center for Disease Control, National Institute of Virology, PGIMER, Chandigarh, Dr RML Hospital, New Delhi, and Lady Hardinge Medical College, New Delhi, have been deployed to the affected districts by Ministry of Health & Family Welfare on 4th January 2021 to assist the State Health Departments in implementing Ministry of Health & Family Welfare’s Avian Influenza containment plan,” the statement said.

“Directions have already been issued to states in this regard,” Union health secretary Rajesh Bhushan said.

The steps taken by the ministry are precautionary as no cases of the flu have been detected in humans so far. “So far, no human case of Avian Influenza has been reported. Ministry of Health & Family Welfare continues to keep a strict watch over the evolving scenario,” the ministry statement read.

The Additional Director General (Wildlife) at Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, Soumitra Dasgupta said that the states have been asked to report to the centre any new cases of the flu. “We have mainly received large number of positive H5N1 cases in Himachal Pradesh. Sporadic cases in poultry have been reported from parts of Kerala, Rajasthan and Gujarat. Reports are coming in everyday. In HP, the virus has been found in large number of bar-headed geese. All chief secretaries and chief wildlife wardens have been alerted and asked to send reports immediately,” Dasgupta said.

The department of animal husbandry on January 4 notified the detection of Avian Influenza (H5N8) in samples of ducks found dead in Alappuzha and Kottayam districts of Kerala.

A similar report of the bird flu was received from poultry samples from Haryana’s Panchkula district, following which the health ministry called a meeting of experts to monitor the situation.

First set of high level team was sent to the affected states on January 4.

Other states, including Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh, have similarly reported incidence of the avian influenza, involving crows and migratory birds.

According to protocol, the department of animal husbandry has issued alerts to further intensify surveillance to detect any cases in poultry birds.

The environment ministry had written to chief secretaries of all states on Tuesday directing them to constitute state level monitoring committees for the outbreak.

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