Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Bird Flu Blues in Delhi

There is growing concern in New Delhi as more birds are found dead after an outbreak of H5N1 (avian flu) killed several birds at the local zoo in early October.   Citizens fear that the flu is spreading beyond the walls and into the rest of the city and unfortunately it seems as though these fears are well founded. Since October 21, at least 10 birds have been found dead around the city, and since the zoo closed there have been reported deaths from a local migratory bird sanctuary.

H5N1 is a zoonic subtype of Influenza A of the orthomyxoviridae family. Although humans are not the primary host of the virus, experts agree that it would only take a few mutations for a highly virulent strain to emerge. Despite inefficient transmission, tpuoltry workers are at moderate risk for contracting the illness. Beginning symptoms include high fever, diarrhea, sore throat, and abdominal pain, but these can worsen and lead to respiratory distress or pneumonia. The current Asian strain has a mortality rate of about 60%. 

In response to the outbreak, the government is advising citizens to stay away from all bird carcasses for the time being, and has provided a hotline for people to report dead birds. Additionally, there are government response teams throughout the city to keep things clean, especially near poultry farms. At this time the state has issued reassurances that there is no reason to panic, and there is no ban on cooked poultry. Nevertheless, officials say they have stocks of Tamiflu tablets should the virus begin to infect humans.

 For more information see:

Elisa Hofmeister  '18

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