News - Bird Hit
THERE?S no bird flu in India, says the Centre. Yet the newspapers are full of it, news channels are devoting special bulletins to the subject, Western experts are attributing the 25 million deaths in six months in 1918 to bird-borne viruses. Should we be worried?
What is avian influenza?
Avian influenza or bird flu is a contagious disease caused by viruses that normally infect only birds and less commonly, pigs. Avian influenza viruses are highly species-specific, but have, on rare occasions, crossed the species barrier to infect humans. It spreads rapidly through poultry and kills birds within 48 hours of infection.
But it?s not a new phenomenon. So why the to-do now?
According to the WHO, the current outbreak of avian influenza?caused by the H5N1 virus, which was first detected in southeast Asia in mid 2003?is the largest and most severe on record. Never before has the disease killed so many birds and affected so many countries, including Indonesia, Vietnam, Cambodia, China and Thailand.
??Despite the death or culling of an estimated 150 million birds, the virus is spreading,?? says Dr CM Gulati, former WHO drug expert and editor, Monthly Index of Medical Sciences. The WHO says it will take years to control the disease among poultry.