Kerala: Avian flu outbreak confirmed at government poultry farm in Manarcad, authorities implement stringent measures

The measures were implemented after an inter-departmental meeting held at the Collectorate, where district Collector V Vigneshwari confirmed the outbreak. The farm, operated by the Animal Husbandry department, had approximately nine thousand chickens at the time.

Livemint
First Published24 May 2024
The avian flu (H5N1) outbreak at the government-run regional poultry farm in Manarcad was confirmed by the National Institute of High Security Animal Diseases lab in Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh, after testing samples from chickens that had died in large numbers at the farm.
The avian flu (H5N1) outbreak at the government-run regional poultry farm in Manarcad was confirmed by the National Institute of High Security Animal Diseases lab in Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh, after testing samples from chickens that had died in large numbers at the farm.(AFP)

The Kerala district administration confirmed an avian flu (H5N1) outbreak at the government-run regional poultry farm in Manarcad in a statement on Thursday. 

Following the outbreak, authorities have decided to euthanise and cremate all domesticated and pet birds within a one-kilometre radius of the poultry farm. The administration stated that “Disinfection steps will be taken in the affected area, and a radius of 1 to 10 km from the poultry farm was declared as a surveillance zone.” Additionally, as per the PTI report, a ban has been imposed on the sale and import of poultry products, including chicken, duck, quails, and other birds, in the Kottayam district.

The measures were implemented after an inter-departmental meeting held at the Collectorate, where district Collector V Vigneshwari confirmed the outbreak. The farm, operated by the Animal Husbandry department, had approximately nine thousand chickens at the time.

The National Institute of High-Security Animal Diseases lab in Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh, confirmed the H5N1 outbreak after testing samples from chickens that had died in large numbers at the farm.

How Widespread is the Bird Flu Outbreak in Cattle?

The full extent remains unknown, but several recent developments suggest it may be in more herds than documented. On April 23, the US Food and Drug Administration detected fragments of the H5N1 virus in the milk supply, confirming that pasteurisation inactivates the virus. While pasteurised milk is considered safe, health officials warn against consuming raw, unpasteurised milk.

Officials have discovered the virus can be present in cows that show no signs of infection, and their milk does not exhibit typical signs of infection, such as being thicker or yellow. To contain the outbreak, the US government requires dairy cattle moving between states to be tested for bird flu.

When Did This Bird Flu Outbreak Start?

The US officials initially believed the outbreak was recent, but new information suggests it may have started late last year. A study funded by the US Department of Agriculture and the CDC, published this month, found that bird flu was likely circulating on a limited basis as far back as late 2023. The study suggests that wild birds transmit the virus to cattle, which then spread it when moved to other states.

(With inputs from agencies)

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