Syllabus section: environment and ecology

Why in News?

After bird flu (avian influenza) was confirmed in Kerala, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Haryana, and Himachal Pradesh, high alert has been sounded in Maharashtra.Several states, which have been reporting deaths of birds, including crows and migratory species, are scrambling to have samples tested for the virus.

About Bird flu:

• Bird flu or avian influenza is the name used to describe a viral infection that is reported mostly in birds, but has the potential to affect humans and other animals.

• The most common strain of the virus that causes severe respiratory disease in birds is H5N1; various other strains like H7, H8 too, cause infection.


• Although there are several types of bird flu, H5N1 was the first avian influenza virus to infect humans. The first infection occurred in Hong Kong in 1997. The outbreak was linked to handling infected poultry.

• H5N1 occurs naturally in wild waterfowl, but it can spread easily to domestic poultry.

• The disease is transmitted to humans through contact with infected bird feces, nasal secretions, or secretions from the mouth or eyes.

• Consuming properly cooked poultry or eggs from infected birds doesn’t transmit the bird flu, but eggs should never be served runny.

• Meat is considered safe if it has been cooked to an internal temperature of 165ºF (73.9ºC).

Human transmission

• The H5N1 virus can jump species and infect humans from the infected bird.

• The first case of H5N1 infection in humans was reported in Hong Kong in 1997, when a poultry farm worker caught the infection from infected birds.

• In its present form, human-to-human infection is not known — human infections have been reported only among people who have handled infected birds or carcasses.

Source: Indian Express