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Bird Flu Threat

  • 04 Jan 2021
  • 3 min read

Why in News

Hundreds of crows have died in Rajasthan prompting authorities to sound a bird flu alert in the state.

Key Points

  • About:
    • Bird flu, also known as 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.
  • Types:
    • Influenza viruses are grouped into three types; A, B, and C. Only type A is known to infect animals and is zoonotic, meaning it can infect animals and also humans. Type B and C mostly infect humans and typically cause mild disease.
    • Avian influenza virus subtypes include A(H5N1), A(H7N9), and A(H9N2).
  • Classification:
    • Influenza 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.
    • Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) A(H5N1) virus occurs mainly in birds and is highly contagious among them.
    • HPAI Asian H5N1 is especially deadly for poultry.
  • Impact:
    • 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.
  • India’s Status:
    • Previously in 2019, India was declared free from Avian Influenza (H5N1), which had also been notified to the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE).
    • The status will last only till another outbreak is reported.

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. India is a member country.
  • It is headquartered in Paris, France.


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