Central team assesses bird-flu outbreak

They are also evaluating the public health risk of H5N8

A three-member Central team reached the State on Thursday to assess the situation following the outbreak of avian influenza (H5N8) in Alappuzha and Kottayam districts.

The team comprising Ministry of Health and Family Welfare’s public health expert Ruchi Jain, National Institute of Virology, Pune, scientist Shailesh Pawar and Dr. Ram Manohar Lohia Hospital, Delhi, physician Anith Jindal held discussions with the Alappuzha district administration officials at the Collectorate here in the morning.

Later in the day, the team visited Karuvatta, Pallippad and Thakazhi, the bird flu hotspots. The Central team is primarily looking at the circumstances that led to the outbreak, its spread and bird culling operations being undertaken as per the Central government guidelines. It is also evaluating the public health risk of H5N8. The risk of transmission of the virus to humans is considered to be very low.

Over 20 farmers hit

District Collector A. Alexander apprised the team of the culling operations and measures taken to tackle the spread of the disease in the district. Mr. Alexander said that a total of 43,206 ducks were culled so far in the district. As many as 32,550 eggs were destroyed. The Collector informed the team that ducks belonging to more than 20 farmers died/were culled in the district due to the outbreak.

The team also collected details of measures taken for COVID-19 prevention and control in the district.

Sanitisation today

Meanwhile, the Animal Husbandry Department officials said that the culling operations were almost completed in Alappuzha. “On Thursday, the third day of the culling process, 6,132 ducks and 620 chickens were culled in the district. Rapid response teams will sanitise the areas on Friday. The situation is under control,” said P.K. Santhosh Kumar, District Animal Husbandry Officer.

According to officials, more than 68,000 birds, mostly ducks, died/were culled in Alappuzha.

In Kottayam

In Kottayam district, 7,729 birds were culled, while more than 2,000 ducks died. The Animal Husbandry Department will continue to carry out a surveillance activity over a radius up to 10 km from the hotspots.

In a statement, K.M. Dileep, Director of Animal Husbandry, said that joint efforts to tackle the spread of avian influenza in the districts had entered the final phase.

Bird flu has been detected from five places in Kuttanad at Nedumudi, Thakazhi, Pallippad and Karuvatta in Alappuzha district and Neendoor in Kottayam district.

Another team

Meanwhile, another two-member team from the Centre will visit Kottayam and Alappuzha districts on January 8 and 9 respectively. Minhaj Alam, joint secretary, Ministry of Food Processing Industries, and S.K. Singh, Director, National Centre for Disease Control, will hold discussions with the respective district administration authorities regarding bird flu and COVID-19 outbreaks.

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