Poultry Chicken were found effected with the Avian/Bird Flu in Hyderabad, and the usual warnings not to eat chicken and eggs went on a rise. Detailed below are the incident whereabouts, the aftermath, and the actual concerns.
How It Started
On 11 April 2015, after witnessing sudden, unusual deaths of chicken in Srinivasa Reddy Poultry Farm in Thorrur village of Hayathnagar, Ranga Reddy district of Hyderabad, Telangana, the owner sent some chicken samples to the National Institute of High Security Animal Diseases laboratory in Bhopal for testing. On 13th of April, it was revealed that 11 samples from the farm tested positive for the H5N1 Avian Influenza Virus, generally called as Bird Flu.
After the initial break out of the highly pathogenic H5N1 bird flu virus in poultry farm, the Telangana government sounded a red alert and declared a 1-km radius area around the farm as an infection zone, and the areas falling in a 10-km radius beyond that as surveillance zones. The infection zone has 5 poultry farms that house 1.45 lakh chickens, and the surveillance zone covers 18 villages. The staff at the farm was given Tamiflu doses and the Telangana government went on to cull around 1.6 lakh chicken birds in the Ranga Reddy district. They also destroyed around 2,30,928 eggs and 200 metric tons of feed in the in the five poultry farms. These concerns about Bird flu hit the Hyderabad poultry.
The Avian/Bird Flu
Avian influenza (AI), usually known as bird flu, is an infectious viral disease affecting birds and can cause serious infections in humans. In 2015 alone, WHO (World Health Organization) reported 125 cases of H5N1 infection causing 33 deaths worldwide. Till date, large number of bird flu infections in humans occurred during the home slaughtering and subsequent handling of diseased or dead birds before cooking.
The symptoms of bird flu are similar to swine flu – Fever, Headache, Sore throat, Cough, Muscle aches and Shortness of breath. In some cases, nausea, a mild eye infection (conjunctivitis), vomiting or diarrhea can also be seen.
Need to Panic?
As samples from only one farm had tested positive for H5N1, animal husbandry additional director Y Thirupathiah said there was no need to panic, and also mentioned that officials are collecting samples from other farms in the neighboring areas. According to FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations)/WHO, thorough cooking of poultry like chicken, geese, turkeys, ducks and guinea-fowl at or above 70°Celsius (so that no meat remains raw and red) is a safe measure to kill the H5N1 virus in areas with outbreaks in poultry. No birds from flocks with disease, however, should enter the food chain. After handling frozen or thawed raw poultry or eggs, it is important to keep clean and wash your hands thoroughly with soap; also disinfect all surfaces.
The avian influenza virus can also be found inside and on the surface of eggs laid by the infected chicken/birds. So FAO/WHO advises people that eggs from poultry areas with outbreaks should not be consumed raw or partially cooked.
The district and state health authorities conducted an intensive surveillance within the 10 km radius of Thorrur village for four days and did not find any person with symptoms of avian flu so far.