The Kerala government has declared bird flu as a state calamity. With avian influenza being detected among ducks in Alappuzha and Kottayam districts, the administration of the two districts has begun the procedure to cull thousands of birds in the region. The culling is expected to be completed within three days.
According to Minister for Forest and Wildlife, K Raju, a large number of ducks were found dead in Kottayam and Alappuzha districts. Although ducks were found dead in large numbers on December 19 in certain regions of Alappuzha, the incident was ignored by farmers because of the Christmas and New Year festivities.
Five of the eight samples sent for tests in Bhopal were confirmed of the virus. The disease was confirmed in Nedumudy, Thakazhi, Pallippadu, and Karuvatta regions of Alappuzha and in Neendoor in Kottayam. A special team of health officials has been deployed to cull the birds, in order to contain the further spread of the disease.
The minister said that there is no need for panic and that the authorities have been instructed to cull all birds within a one kilometre radius of the areas where bird flu was reported. This includes all types of poultry and ornamental birds.
As per the preliminary reports, over 50,000 birds need to be culled, which comes as a blow to several farmers in the districts. According to Raju, the government will compensate farmers. The authorities also launched a drive to identify those with suspected flu symptoms in the area, while Alappuzha District Collector A Alexander has issued orders to prevent the use and sale of meat, eggs, and excreta of the birds (as fertiliser for agricultural purposes) of ducks, hens, and quail in Kuttanad, Karthikappally taluks.
This is the third outbreak of avian influenza in the Alappuzha district in the past seven years. In 2014, thousands of ducks died/culled in the region following a highly infectious bird flu outbreak caused by the H5N1 virus. Two years later avian influenza caused by the H5N8 virus was detected among ducks in Kuttanad. Last year, bird flu was confirmed in Kozhikode and Malappuram, but the spread of the disease was prevented by killing the birds in the area. Recently, avian flu was confirmed in Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh.
Bird flu, also known as avian flu, is a variety of influenza caused by a virus in birds. It can spread to humans and can prove fatal.