Avian Influenza | 07 Sep 2019

With effect from 3rd September 2019, India has been declared free from Avian Influenza (H5N1), which has also been notified to the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE).

  • The declaration is a result of measures taken to control the recent outbreak of the disease at several places in Jharkhand, Bihar and Odisha and hence there is no presence of the Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) Virus.
  • The status will last only till another outbreak is reported. India was last declared free of the disease in 2017.
  • This declaration is important not just from the poultry industry standpoint, but also because humans can contact the disease from animals. Though the pathogen is not capable of sustained human-to-human transmission.

About Avian Influenza

  • Avian influenza (AI) is a highly contagious viral disease affecting several species of food-producing birds (chickens, turkeys, quails, guinea fowl, etc.), as well as pet birds and wild birds.
    • Occasionally mammals, including humans, may contract avian influenza.
  • Influenza A viruses are classified into subtypes based on two surface proteins, Hemagglutinin (HA) and Neuraminidase (NA). For example, a virus that has an HA 7 protein and NA 9 protein is designated as subtype H7N9.
    • Avian influenza virus subtypes include A(H5N1), A(H7N9), and A(H9N2).
    • HPAI A(H5N1) virus occurs mainly in birds and is highly contagious among them.
    • HPAI Asian H5N1 is especially deadly for poultry.
  • Avian Influenza outbreaks can lead to devastating consequences for the country, particularly the poultry industry.
    • Farmers might experience a high level of mortality in their flocks, with rates often around 50%.
  • Prevention: Strict biosecurity measures and good hygiene are essential in protecting against disease outbreaks.
  • Eradication: If the infection is detected in animals, a policy of culling infected and contact animals is normally used in an effort to rapidly contain, control and eradicate the disease.

World Organization for Animal Health

  • The OIE is an intergovernmental organisation responsible for improving animal health worldwide.
  • It is recognised as a reference organisation by the World Trade Organization (WTO).
  • In 2018, it had a total of 182 Member Countries.
  • It is headquartered in Paris, France.

Source: IE