Maharashtra has not reported any confirmed case of avian influenza so far, said Sachindra Pratap Singh, state animal husbandry commissioner, on Monday.
“In Maharashtra, we are on high alert and following standard operating procedures,” Singh said. At present, there was no confirmed case of avian influenza in the state, he added.
Officials at National Institute of High Security Animal Diseases, Bhopal, on condition of anonymity, said they were getting several samples daily from Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Himachal Pradesh. It was reliably learnt that samples tested positive for A (H5N8) strain of avian influenza (bird flu).
Samples from dead birds from Himachal Pradesh suspected with avian influenza were under investigation at Bhopal Lab.
Sources said this was the H5N8 strain of avian influenza. These outbreaks have been reported from 2010 in Asia and was first found in domestic ducks in China.
The country was declared free from avian influenza in July 2015 after completion of disinfection and post operation surveillance. As part of preparedness, countrywide surveillance is being maintained against the disease.
Dr V V Limaye, Joint Commissioner, animal husbandry, disease investigation section said an annual action plan for monitoring and surveillance of avian influenza was ongoing and, in the last year, as many as 1,700 cloacal and 1,900 serum samples were tested from different districts of the state and there is no confirmed case of avian influenza.
“Each district is given a target to collect samples and none have tested positive,” Dr Limaye said.
He said they were on a constant alert, especially after adopting a ‘One health’ approach where zoonotic diseases can be controlled through a coordinated approach from veterinary and health departments.
Whenever avian influenza viruses are circulating in poultry, there is a risk for sporadic infection and small clusters of human cases due to exposure to infected poultry or contaminated environments, WHO has said. Accordingly, sporadic human cases are not unexpected. With continued incidence of avian influenza due to existing and new influenza A(H5) viruses in poultry, there is a need to remain vigilant in the animal and public health sectors, according to WHO.
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