Bird Flu Reaches India

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Bird flu is an infection caused by avian flu viruses, which occur naturally among birds. Bird flu is communicable disease among birds and can make some domesticated birds, including chickens, ducks, and turkeys, very sick and kill them.

The global health crisis caused by the bird flu pandemic seems to have reached the Indian sub-continent. Reported cases of bird flu, commonly referred to as avian influenza or avian flu, in the domestic and wild bird populations are pouring in from several parts of the country.

Bird flu is an infection caused by avian flu viruses, which occur naturally among birds. Bird flu is communicable disease among birds and can make some domesticated birds, including chickens, ducks, and turkeys, very sick and kill them.

National news agencies have confirmed the spread of the deadly H5N1 strain of the bird flu virus in the tribal zone of Navapur in northern Maharashtra's Nandurbar district. Several laboratorial tests conducted by the Indian government have confirmed the presence of the virus. Bird flu has also been confirmed in some samples from poultry in Surat district in the state of Gujarat and from several other states.

The central government has activated its action plan to prevent the spread of bird flu. The government has sent health personnel to inspect health of people living in the regions affected by the epidemic. Poultry fowls are being vaccinated all over the country. Some of the affected regions have been quarantined and movement of chicken and other poultry products has been banned from those regions. Moreover, chickens are being culled in mass scale in bird flu suspected farms.

Although the risk from bird flu is generally low to most people, government officials have reported a death of a 27-year-old poultry farm owner from Nandurbar in Surat hospital, in a rare case of bird-to-human transmission of bird flu. Most cases of avian influenza infection in humans have resulted from contact with infected poultry or surfaces contaminated with secretion or excretions from infected birds.

Symptoms of the transmission of bird flu in humans are similar to those of general influenza, like fever, cough, sore throat, muscle aches, eye infections, pneumonia, severe respiratory diseases, and other severe and life-threatening complications. The fatality of the infection usually depend mostly on the state of the immune system of an infected person.

During an outbreak of avian influenza in humans, information on the extent of influenza infection in animals as well as humans and on circulating influenza viruses is urgently needed to assist the assessment of public health risks and to recommend the best protective measures.

As of now, a specific anti-avian influenza vaccine for humans is not readily available. However, the anti-viral medication oseltamivir phosphate, with brand name Tamiflu, may be effective in treating avian influenza. Apart from Tamiflu, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved the antiviral medications rimantadine and amantadine for the treatment of H5N1 in adults. Meanwhile, the World Health Organization is considering the efficacies of rimantadine and amantadine to combat some strains of bird flu.

The Indian government is putting effort to halt further spread of the epidemic. It is providing proper clothing and equipment to the workers involved in the culling of infected poultry in order to protect them from infection. The government should also focus on promoting research for the development of effective anti-viral drugs and alternative preventive measures to mitigate the intensity of the bird flu pandemic.

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