With highly pathogenic avian flu turning up in Europe, and continual reports of outbreaks in across much of Asia (see China: H5 AI Rising), we are understandably interested whenever there is a large, unexplained bird die off anywhere in the world.
Last week the Indian press carried reports of a large, and ongoing die off of ducks in Kerala, near Kuttanad – a low lying rice growing region of Southern India - which switches over to duck farming each fall after the rice harvest is in.
Based on that report, there was a die off last spring as well, and a variety of explanations have been offered – including weed killers and chemicals used in the rice paddy. This fall, however, the die off has accelerated.
By Express News Service
Published: 19th November 2014 06:00 AM
Experts from the Department of Veterinary Pathology, College of Veterinary and Animal Sciences, KVASU, Mannuthy, had reported in one of their studies in October that ‘pasteurellosis’ and ‘aflatoxicosis’ had affected the duck population in Kuttanad, and almost 250 ducks died in the outbreak.
But the farmers presented a different picture. They said the disease had killed more than 25,000 ducks in October first week. It had spread to Thakazhi, Edathua, Veeyapuram and other areas in Upper Kuttanad. This time the killer disease has appeared again in November and places like Kainakari, Nedumudi and Mankombu have been affected, they said.
Today the Indian press is carrying word that testing by the National Institute of High Security Animal Diseases has revealed an (undisclosed subtype) highly pathogenic avian influenza virus is behind this die off. This from the Indian Express.
Written by Shaju Philip | Thiruvananthapuram | Posted: November 24, 2014 5:03 pm
Kerala Animal Husbandry Department on Monday said avian influenza virus was behind the massive death of ducks in Kuttanad region of Alappuzha district.
Reports from Alappuzha said 17,000 ducks had died in recent days. Kuttanad is Kerala’s prominent paddy-growing region, where scores of farmers are engaged in rearing duck.
Kerala Animal Husbandry Minister K P Mohanan said preventive steps would be soon initiated to contain the disease. The avian flu was confirmed after lab tests at National Institute of High Security Animal Diseases, Bhopal. He said veterinary kits would be disturbed in the region and if necessary, birds would be culled to prevent the disease’s spread to other regions.
The identity of this avian flu has not been disclosed, and as of this writing I’ve found no OIE report published. Perhaps we’ll learn more later today.
Kerala is an important over-wintering spot for scores of avian species, which flock to the warm tropical wetlands of southern India each fall.
According to The Hindu 2011 report Migratory birds arrive in Kerala, most of these birds hail from the . . . Eurasia region; Siberia, Mongolia, Kazakhstan and other area north of the Himalayan regions. Some of the birds are also from the Himalayan region. . . . The migratory species arriving include godwits, terns, ospreys, golden plovers, pratincoles, several species of ducks and waders like sandpipers and plovers.
There are, admittedly, a number of bird flu strains that could be behind this outbreak. In recent months we’ve seen the emergence of HPAI H5N8, H5N3, H5N6, H10N8 and new clades of H5N1 and H7N9 (not normally pathogenic in birds) continue to emerge.
For more on this you may wish to revisit these recent related blogs: