The state government has declared a high alert across three of its districts, namely Alappuzha, Kottayam and Pathanamthitta, after over thousands of ducks found dead were tested positive for bird flu.
The Avian Influenza, as it is also called, has struck Kerala for the first time causing the death of around 50, 000 ducks in Kuttanad region. Kuttanad reportedly has a duck population of 6 lakhs and deaths have been reported from the different villages in recent weeks. The disease has earlier hit states of Karnataka, Gujarat, Maharashtra and West Bengal. The government has ordered for massive culling of the birds and other poultry in one square kilometer from the affected villages. The sale of duck meat and eggs has also been banned in the districts. All kinds of birds, including pets, will be killed and burnt to death using kerosene. The sudden outbreak of bird flu have created huge panic among the people and the possibility of the disease spreading to humans has aggravated the fear despite the warnings from the Centre and the state’s Animal Husbandry Department.
Whether the disease would spread to humans is yet to be found. According to World Health Organisation, the disease can infect humans. The Animal Husbandry Department is being blamed for not taken responsible action in the matter by informing the concerned authorities and delaying enlightening the farmers. The Kerala Animal Husbandary Department had instructed the officials not to allow Kerala vehicles carrying poultry from Karnataka and Tamil Nadu. Preventive steps to contain the spread of the disease and measures to eradicate it completely would be taken. Kumarakom Bird Sanctuary, home to a large of number of birds and located near the affected area, would be closed. Experts believe that the migrating waterfowls may have contributed to the spread of the disease and are under surveillance.Veterinary kits would also be distributed among the farmers in affected areas and awareness about the disease would also be spread immediately. The government has also announced compensation to the affected farmers at the rate of R75 for each chick less than two months old, and R150 for older birds. The geography and the abundance of water bodies in Kuttanad make its more prone to diseases and therefore the authorities should be following expert advices and adopt precautionary measures to uproot bird flu completely.