Bird flu: Highly infectious H5N1 virus found in samples sent from Panchkula
Bird flu: Highly infectious H5N1 virus found in samples sent from Panchkula

Bird flu: Highly infectious H5N1 virus found in samples sent from Panchkula

The National Institute of High Security Animal Diseases, Bhopal, has confirmed presence of the highly infectious H5N1 influenza virus in four samples collected from farms in Panchkula’s Barwala-Raipur Rani poultry belt
By Tanbir Dhaliwal and Gagandeep Jassowal, Panchkula
PUBLISHED ON JAN 24, 2021 12:40 AM IST

The National Institute of High Security Animal Diseases, Bhopal, has confirmed presence of the highly infectious H5N1 influenza virus in four samples collected from farms in Panchkula’s Barwala-Raipur Rani poultry belt. The lab also confirmed the presence of H5N8 virus in samples from four other poultry farms.

It was on January 7 that the Bhopal lab first confirmed bird flu (H5N8) at two poultry farms in the area. The following day, the Northern Regional Disease Diagnostic Laboratory (NRDDL), Jalandhar, sent more suspected samples from four farms to Bhopal for confirmation. The Panchkula administration, too, collected samples from more farms where mortality was high and sent them to Bhopal.

“Four samples positive for H5N1 avian influenza virus,” states the report released by the Bhopal institute on Saturday evening, a copy of which is with HT.

Confirming the development, Dr Mohinder Pal Singh, director, NRDDL, Jalandhar, said: “Apart from our lab, samples were collected by a team of experts from the central government as well. They have found presence of H5N1, which is the most dangerous. Unlike H5N8 strain, its transmission to humans is more, and hence it must be controlled.”

“The fear remains about mutation of this virus (H5N1) inside human beings. No one can tell how it will react after mutation. To avoid a pandemic among humans, this must be controlled at the animal level only,” said another expert, who did not wish to be named.

The report further mentions that samples from four farms – Maharaja in Khatauli, Tara-1 and Tara-2 in Batour and Single in Mauli – have tested positive for H5N8 avian influenza virus

The report is addressed to the secretary, department of animal husbandry and dairying, at the Centre and director, animal husbandry, Haryana.

Earlier, 81,000 birds were culled at two poultry farms where bird flu was confirmed on January 7 besides another one in the infected zone. The culling operations went on for over a week and concluded on January 17.

Panchkula deputy commissioner Mukesh Kumar Ahuja, and director general, animal husbandry and dairying, Haryana, Dr BS Laura did not revert to queries. Darshan Kumar, president, Haryana Poultry Farmers’ Association, insisted that “no new farm has been found infected”.

All about H5N1 and H5N8 influenza virus

According do WHO, H5N1 is a type of influenza virus that causes a highly infectious, severe respiratory disease in birds called avian influenza.

Human cases occur occasionally, but it is difficult to transmit the infection from person to person. However, in humans, it can cause severe diseases and a high mortality rate.

If the H5N1 virus were to change and become easily transmissible from person to person while retaining its capacity to cause severe diseases, the consequences for public health could be very serious.

Avian influenza A (H5N8) viruses have been rapidly spreading, most likely via wild migratory birds in Asia and Europe, in recent months and causing deaths in wild birds and outbreaks in domestic poultry.

Human infection with the H5N8 virus cannot be excluded, although the likelihood is low. In fact, to date, no human case of such infection has been detected.

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