Avian Influenza – India

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July 20, 2021 – One reported case of the bird flu (avian influenza) confirmed in New Dehli, India. The individual infected was an 11 year-old boy. He was admitted to the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) after seeking treatment for symptoms related to the bird flu. He passed away at the facility.

Symptoms and origin of the bird flu were not identified for this particular case, though priori cases have involved sample collection at certain locations in Delhi and the closure of a poultry shop in that state.

Individuals who were exposed to the boy are under quarantine for monitoring and preventative care. This measure has been taken as the virus is contagious. The country has seen similar outbreaks earlier in the year.

Avian influenza is a virus that generally affects birds. Humans can contract the virus from contact with a bird carrying the virus. As it is an air-borne virus, it can also transmit from person to person. Symptoms can include cough, fever, headache, sore throat and body aches. If left untreated, this infectious disease can pose as fatal. Treatment for avian influenza includes antiviral medications.

Photo: H5N1 virus colorized micrograph, viruses are gold colored in MDCK cells (green).

Avian influenza is deadly to most birds, but it can also be deadly to humans and other animals that catch the virus (poultry farming). Since the first human case in 1997, H5N1 has killed nearly 60% of those who have been infected. Unlike human flu, avian flu does not spread easily from person to person.

Avian influenza subtypes H5N8, H5N5, H5N3, and H5N1 are currently circulating mostly in the European continent (for now). The pathogens have been detected in wild birds and these viruses are being distributed wherever wild birds migrate.

Poultry producers are recommended to implement bio-security measures necessary to protect their flocks and humans from exposure and infection.

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