Tuesday, October 25, 2016

India: H5N8 Now Reported In Kerala State (Southern India)


India's H5N8 outbreak appears to be spreading quickly, with word today from the Times of India that the virus has now been detected more than 1300 miles south of the first outbreak in New Delhi, in the district of Alappuzha in Kerala State.

| | Oct 25, 2016, 16:39 IST
ALAPPUZHA: Avian flu(H5 N8) has been confirmed in five places in ducks in Kuttanad by State Disease Investigation Laboratory(SDIL) at Bhopal and this H5N8 virus will not transmit to human beings, informed district collector Veena N Madhavan.
Speaking to newsmen after chairing a meeting of officials of animal husbandry department, revenue, police and local bodies here on Tuesday, Veena said there is no problem for eating the meat and eggs of healthy ducks. ``In 2014, November, it was H5 N1, which spread in Alappuzha and that virus was a threat to the human beings. However, this time, it is H5 N8 which was confirmed in five places- Thakazhi, Neelamperoor, Pandi, Ramankari, Kainadi- and it will not transmit to human beings,'' said the collector.
The district administration has set up 20 Rapid Response Teams (RRT) for monitoring and destroying the affected birds. Each RRT is consisting of two veterinary surgeons, two livestock inspectors, two labourers, two attenders ward member, two revenue officials and two police men. This RRT team will cull the bird flu affected ducks in an isolated places and this RRT team will complete their works within four days. 

(Continue.  . . )

While Indian authorities are downplaying the threat from H5N8 - for both humans and poultry - the hard hit poultry industries of South Korea, Taiwan, and the United States would probably beg to differ.

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.

The rapid spread of H5N8 across the entire length of India is a worrisome sign, and more evidence that the H5N8 virus is able to hitchhike long distances via migratory birds.