Saturday, February 18, 2012

H5N1: A Murder Of Crows



Indian House Crow – Photo Credit Wikipedia


# 6154


Over the past three months, and across several states in northern India, we’ve seen numerous reports of mass deaths of crows (see The Kolkata Crow Mystery & Media Report: H5N1 Killing Crows In Jharkhand).


By mid-December the Indian Veterinary Research Institute (IVRI), Bhopal, confirmed that it was the H5N1 virus that was behind these deaths. (see EpiSouth Bulletin eweb_195_15_12__11.pdf).


Still, there has remained some debate over whether the H5N1 virus is truly responsible for these crow deaths. As recently as January 20th, the Calcutta Telegraph reported that FAO officials were expressing doubts on the cause (see UN experts sceptical of H5N1 attack on crows).


Their reasoning, according to this report: `the FAO team currently touring Jharkhand, insisted that if the virus were indeed H5N1, it would have spread to other animals and also human beings.’


Meanwhile, the media has accused local governments of being slow to react, as in this report from late January that appeared in the  Times of India.

Govt gets cracking on crow deaths
TNN | Jan 29, 2012, 07.36AM IST

KOLKATA: After ignoring the mysterious crow deaths in the city for nearly two months, the state government flew into action mode on Saturday and sent scientists to Rabindra Sarovar to gather carcasses and blood samples.

(Continue . . . )



Doubts over the cause of these crow deaths would seem to have been erased on February 6th, when official notification was made to the OIE of H5N1 virus detections in crows from four states; Jharkhand, Maharashtra, Orissa, and Bihar.






Today, somewhat belatedly, we get a media report from the northeastern Indian state of Bihar announcing the cause of these crow deaths.



Crows are dying in Bihar from bird flu

IANS | Feb 18, 2012, 02.01PM IST

PATNA: It is official now. Crows are dying in Bihar because of bird flu. This was revealed in the report of the Bhopal-based High Security Animal Disease Laboratory (HSADL), officials Saturday said.


The HSADL has confirmed in its report that avian influenza was killing the crows in Gaya district.


After the confirmation, the Bihar government has directed the animal husbandary department officials to begin necessary measures to deal with the situation.

(Continue . . .)



Curiously, no explanation (or even mention) is made of the 12-day delay between OIE’s notification, and the results apparently made public today from India’s High Security Animal Disease Laboratory (HSADL).


The public are now being warned to stay away from crows (living or dead), and non-specific assurances are being offered by local officials that,`Some measures have been taken to control the situation and check possible spread of any kind of infection.’


Despite IVRI reports in mid-December finding the Jharkhand crow deaths were due to the H5N1 virus, on December 29th the media reported India declares itself bird flu-free; notifies OIE).


That coveted status didn’t last long.


Since then, India has filed 6 reports of H5N1, in poultry and in wild birds, with the OIE.

India H5N1  11/01/12 Immediate notification 49326

                 13/01/12 Follow-up report No. 1 49359

                 18/01/12 Follow-up report No. 2 49405

                 28/01/12 Follow-up report No. 3 49504

                 04/02/12 Follow-up report No. 4 49573

                 06/02/12 Immediate notification 



Demonstrating once more, just how difficult it is for countries where the H5N1 virus has become entrenched to successfully eradicate it from the environment.

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