Since H5N8 arrived last week in New Delhi, much of the public health messaging coming from India's state governments have been along the reassuring lines of H5N8 Virus Will Not Spread to Humans, Says Kerala Government and Bird Flu Scare: Virus Less Infective, No Threat to Humans, Assures Delhi Govt.
While the risks are undoubtedly low, our own CDC doesn't consider them zero, and last summer they issued a CDC HAN:HPAI H5 Exposure, Human Health Investigations & Response, urging doctors to be alert to possible infections and advising:
People exposed to HPAI H5-infected birds (including people wearing PPE) should be monitored for signs and symptoms consistent with influenza beginning after their first exposure and for 10 days after their last exposure. Influenza antiviral prophylaxis may be considered to prevent infection (see below).
Today, India's Ministry of Health & Family Welfare - out of an abundance of caution - has released similar guidance.
Ministry of Health and Family Welfare
27-October-2016 18:40 IST
Low Public Health Risk from Avian Influenza A H5N8
A number of wild birds died in National Zoological Park and Deer Park, both situated in Delhi and Zoological Park, Gwalior in the preceding two weeks. Domesticated bird deaths (ducks) were reported this week from Alappuzha District of Kerala. In all these instances, samples tested at the National Institute of High Security Animal Diseases, Bhopal were found positive for Avian Influenza A H5N8.
On the public health risk of Avian Influenza A H5N8, World Health Organization has informed that “based on current knowledge, the risk of zoonotic transmission is considered low for H5N8”.
As a matter of abundant caution, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare has advised the State Health Departments to use personal protective equipment by those handling dead/sick birds, keep persons exposed to the dead/sick birds under surveillance and provide them chemoprophylaxis (Oseltamivir 75 mg once daily for 10 days).
A Joint Coordination Committee in the Department of Animal Husbandry, Dairying and Fisheries, with representation from Ministry of Health and Family Welfare is monitoring the situation.