Centre deploys multi-disciplinary teams to avian influenza-hit districts of Kerala, Haryana

According to the ministry, avian influenza involving crows and migratory birds has been reported from Jhalawar in Rajasthan and Bhind in Madhya Pradesh.
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The Union Health Ministry said on Wednesday it has deployed multi-disciplinary teams to avian influenza-affected Alappuzha and Kottayam districts of Kerala, and Panchkula district of Haryana.

On Monday, avian influenza (H5N8) in samples of duck carcasses from Alappuzha and Kottayam districts in Kerala was notified by the animal husbandry department. Similar reports of avian influenza have also been received from poultry samples from Panchkula district, it said in a statement.

Two multi-disciplinary teams comprising experts from the National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), National Institute of Virology, PGIMER Chandigarh, RML Hospital, and Lady Hardinge Medical College in New Delhi, have been deployed to the affected districts on January 4 to assist the health departments of the states in implementing the health ministry's avian influenza containment plan.

Additionally, a high-level team comprising NCDC director, joint secretary and COVID-19 nodal officer, Ministry of Food Processing Industries has been deployed to Kerala on January 6 to oversee implementation of the avian influenza containment operations and guide the health department in mounting appropriate public health interventions, the statement said.

This high-level team will also review the COVID-19 situation in the state.

According to the ministry, avian influenza involving crows and migratory birds has been reported from Jhalawar in Rajasthan and Bhind in Madhya Pradesh. The animal husbandry departments have issued alerts according to the protocol to further intensify surveillance to detect the disease in poultry birds.

"So far, no human case of avian influenza has been reported. The Health Ministry continues to keep a strict watch over the evolving scenario," it said.

In Madhya Pradesh, Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan said the state will not allow entry to chicken consignments from Kerala and other southern states for the next 10 days.

"Bird flu symptoms were found in chickens in Kerala and other southern states. Therefore, we have decided that no chicken from these states will be allowed to enter Madhya Pradesh for the next 10 days," Chouhan said, without specifying any other state.

"Bird flu symptoms were found in crows and in some other avian species, but during a random inspection of poultries, the disease was not found in any chicken," he said.

The influenza is the cause of mass deaths of crows in Madhya Pradesh's Indore, Mandsaur and Agar Malwa districts, officials said.

Edited by Saheli Sen Gupta