Bihar’s double whammy: Bird flu comes knocking in times of coronavirus

If novel coronavirus was not bad enough, Bihar has also come under the spectre of bird flu with deaths of more than one hundred birds since February this year. The dead birds include crows. Samples picked from two localities in Patna have tested positive for avian influenza or H5N1 virus, commonly known as bird flu. A patient has also been confirmed positive for swine flu in Bihar.

The news has come as nothing less than a double whammy for Bihar residents, who are already struggling to save themselves from the novel coronavirus. The samples of dead crows were sent to the National Institute of High-Security Animal Diseases (NIHSAD) at Bhopal, where the results confirmed the worst fears.

Avian influenza A (H5N1) is caused by a virus subtype that occurs mainly in birds. The disease is contagious among birds and can be fatal. There have been instances of human beings getting infected with the virus.

“In most of the cases, people having direct or close contact with H5N1-infected poultry or H5N1-contaminated surfaces contracted the disease. The H5N1 strain of bird flu is regarded as highly pathogenic and can also cause disease and death in humans. However, most victims contract the disease through close contact with affected birds,” said a veterinary doctor.

Meanwhile, the Centre has already declared that veterinary services be considered in the list of essential services. In a letter addressed to the chief secretaries of all states, Upamanyu Basu, Joint Secretary in the Ministry Fisheries, Animal Husbandry and Dairying has requested the state authorities to ensure continuous emergency services in the animal husbandry and veterinary sector, especially in the emergent animal health situations.

Meanwhile, Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar has announced a massive incentive for all doctors and medical staff involved in the State government’s efforts to check the spread of coronavirus disease (Covid-19). These officials are now entitled to a financial incentive equal to their monthly salary. This initiative is a part of the state government’s assistance package to overcome the unprecedented crisis people are facing amid the nationwide surge Covid-19 infections.

Meanwhile, no new case of coronavirus has been reported in Bihar on Tuesday. As of now, Bihar has recorded three positive cases of Covid-19 cases. The first case was of Md Kaif, who died on Saturday at AIIMS, Patna while another woman tested positive for Covid-19 at the same hospital that day. A third case had surfaced on Monday after a 24-year-old man, with a travel history to the UK, tested positive for the disease.

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Source – India Today