“Rising Bird-flu cases in Alappuzha”

“Rising Bird-flu cases in Alappuzha”

This article covers “Daily Current Affairs” and the Topic details of “Rising Bird-flu cases in Alappuzha” This topic is relevant to the “Science & Technology” section of the UPSC—CSE Exam.


Why in the news?

With the serious bird flu situation in the Alappuzha district, the outbreak has spread extensively throughout the region. More than one lakh birds, primarily ducks and chickens, have been culled due to the disease. Additionally, cases of bird flu have been confirmed in other avian species, such as pigeons, crows, herons, and peahens, in Alappuzha and the neighbouring districts of Pathanamthitta and Kottayam.


Bird Flu:

  • Bird flu / Avian flu is a viral infection primarily affecting poultry and certain wild bird species. Various virus strains have circulated among over 100 bird species for an extended period with minimal impact.



  • Periodically, strains of bird flu can jump from wild birds to poultry farms, where they thrive in crowded conditions. This can lead to the emergence of highly pathogenic forms, causing significant illness and death among birds.


H5N1 Bird Flu:

  • H5N1 ( subtype of influenza A virus ) causes severe respiratory disease in birds, known as avian influenza or bird flu.


Key Characteristics:

  • Influenza A viruses are categorised by subtypes based on their surface proteins, including 18 hemagglutinin and 11 neuraminidase subtypes (e.g., H1N1, H3N2).


Human Impact:

  • Human cases of H5N1 avian influenza are sporadic, with a mortality rate of approximately 60%, though human-to-human transmission is rare.


Origin and Spread:

  • The current strain of H5N1 originated from a 1996 outbreak on a goose farm in Guangdong, China. It spread globally, reaching Europe in 2020, Africa, Asia, North America in late 2021, South America in fall 2022, and mainland Antarctica in February 2024.


Factors Contributing to Spread:

  • The exact factors behind large-scale bird flu outbreaks remain unclear, but climate change may play a role. Rising global temperatures alter bird behaviour, increasing interaction between species and potentially facilitating virus transmission.


Human Transmission:

  • Human infections generally occur through close contact with infected birds or contaminated environments. Human-to-human transmission is rare but could pose significant public health risks if the virus mutates to become easily transmissible while retaining its severe disease-causing capability.


How to curb bird flu?

  •  Pasteurization Inactivates Bird Flu Virus in Dairy Products: The search results indicate that pasteurisation is effective at inactivating the Highly Pathogenic H5N1 Avian Influenza (H5N1 HPAI) virus in milk and other dairy products. FDA and USDA studies have found that standard pasteurisation can inactivate the H5N1 HPAI virus in milk. Retail sampling also found all 297 dairy product samples negative for viable H5N1 HPAI virus. This provides assurance that the commercial milk supply is safe from the bird flu virus.
  • Strengthening Biosecurity for Poultry Farms: The search results highlight the importance of biosecurity measures for poultry farms to curb the spread of bird flu. Poultry industry groups are urging backyard chicken owners to implement strict biosecurity protocols, such as housing birds to separate them from wild birds, disinfecting equipment, and closely monitoring flocks for signs of illness. Mandatory biosecurity measures have also been implemented in affected regions.
  • Gene Editing to Create Flu-Resistant Chickens: Researchers use gene editing techniques like CRISPR to create chickens partially resistant to bird flu. By editing a gene called ANP32A, which flu viruses hijack to replicate, they could produce chickens that remained uninfected or had much lower virus levels when exposed to the H5N1 virus. While more research is needed, this approach shows promise in limiting bird flu transmission.
  • Increased Surveillance and Testing: The search results indicate that increased surveillance and testing of poultry flocks, including backyard chickens, is crucial to curbing the spread of bird flu. The FDA urges states to implement more rigorous testing of dairy herds involved in raw milk production and report findings to regulatory agencies. Mandatory testing and reporting requirements have also been implemented in affected regions.


The key preventable measures that can help reduce the spread of bird flu:

  • Reduce  Direct Contact with Infected Birds and Animals:
  1. Reduce direct contact with sick or dead wild birds, poultry, and other animals. Observe them only from a distance.
  2. If you must have direct/close contact, wear recommended personal protective equipment (PPE), such as gloves, masks, and goggles.
  3. Do not touch surfaces or materials contaminated with saliva, mucous, or faeces from infected birds or animals.
  4. Do not consume raw or unprocessed milk products, especially from animals with confirmed or suspected avian influenza infection.
  • Strengthen Biosecurity on Poultry Farms
  1. House birds to separate them from wild birds and implement strict biosecurity protocols.
  2. Disinfect equipment and closely monitor flocks for signs of illness.
  3. Mandatory biosecurity measures have been implemented in affected regions.
  • Avoid Risky Behaviors When Traveling
  1. If possible, avoid visiting poultry farms, bird markets, or other places with live poultry. If you must, wear PPE.
  2. Do not visit dairy farms with sick cows unless you are wearing PPE.
  3. Do not eat raw or uncooked poultry products. Wash hands after handling uncooked poultry.
  • Improve Surveillance and Testing
  1. Increase surveillance and testing of poultry flocks, including backyard chickens, to detect outbreaks early.
  2. Mandate reporting of suspected cases to regulatory agencies.
  3. Test dairy herds involved in raw milk production and report findings.


Download plutus ias current affairs eng med 02nd July 2024


Prelims based Question:

Q. Bird/Avian flu is spread by:

  1. Protozoa
  2. Fungi
  3. Virus
  4. Bacteria


Mains based Question:

Q. Discuss why Kerala state witnessed the continuous upsurge of bird flu despite several steps taken by the authorities.

No Comments

Post A Comment