Is Assam Safe from Avian Bird Influenza?

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Juthika Baruah

While coronavirus cases continue to soar in the country, another reason of worry has emerged amongst the people with the emergence of bird flu. Many states from across the country have reported avian bird influenza killing thousands of chickens and hens.

The states of Kerala, Himachal Pradesh, Punjab etc have already issued statutory warning against consuming chicken and eggs. The authorities have also culled off thousands of other bird species.  The emergence of bird flu has made the experts worried as the H5N1 has been considered to be the most lethal one as it could also turn into a pandemic if it is not controlled in time and preventive steps are taken.

As most of the states have reported the bird flu, the government of Assam has also imposed a ban on import of chickens and hens in order to prevent the same in the state. However, the state government has also taken step to prevent the disease from spreading. The district commissioners have been instructed to check the regular markets to make out if any symptoms have been seen in the chickens or hens.

Chairman of Animal Husbandry and Livestock, Manoj Saikia while speaking to Pratidin Time Digital said that the bird flu has not yet emerged in Assam and to prevent the spread of the influenza, the government has imposed a ban on chickens.

When asked if the ban would affect the supply of chickens, Saikia said that it will not hamper the state as Assam has its own production of chickens of 1 crore per month and 24-25000 weekly. “Earlier we used to import chickens much but now-a-days the import is less compared to the previous years as we have our own production which is sufficient,” said Saikia.

He further stated that the states of Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland and Meghalaya imported chickens from Assam and in that case the state might face some crisis but it will not hamper much.

The Chairman further said that they have also taken steps to prevent the disease and instructions have been given to follow the guidelines issued by the Center.

Thousands of chickens dead due to avian bird influenza

While asked about whether the state is safe or not from the bird flu, the Chairman said that it cannot be said whether it is safe or not but we can prevent it from having it and that is possible once we are prepared. “A disease is that which is not in our hands but we can prevent it to some extent. It also happens due to migratory birds and as Assam also witnessed many migratory birds coming in from different regions, so there is a chance that avian influenza might occur but precautions have been taken,” said Saikia.

While this year’s Avian influenza is not the first one we have seen, bird flu is one such infectious disease which can easily pass on from birds onto humans. It has also sparked fears amongst poultry and non-vegetarians if it is safe to eat poultry and produce since the strain can also infect humans.

Experts also said that the bird flu has returned to India with migratory birds as it can carry many diseases. The Union Ministry of Fisheries and Animal Husbandry has declared the country free from bird flu in September but an advisory has been issued in October with the winter wave as many migratory birds come during this season.

What are the symptoms of bird flu?

You may have an H5N1 infection if you experience typical flu-like symptoms such as:

  • cough
  • diarrhea
  • respiratory difficulties
  • fever (over 100.4°F or 38°C)
  • headache
  • muscle aches
  • malaise
  • runny nose
  • sore throat

If you’re exposed to bird flu, you should notify staff before you arrive at the doctor’s office or hospital. Alerting them ahead of time will allow them to take precautions to protect staff and other patients before caring for you.

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