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Kerala issues directives following bird flu outbreak

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The Kerala Health Department has issued directions to all districts to be on alert following the detection of avian flu in some parts of the State.

Health Minister Veena George clarified that there was no cause for concern, but advised people to take precaution for preventing transmission to human. Necessary orders have been issued to cull poultry and other pet birds in the affected wards as well as to destroy eggs, meat and bird feed, she said.

However, experts have suggested carrying out diagnostic studies given the recurring avian influenza outbreak in the State. It is pointed out that the wetlands, which habitat more than 80 per cent of the duck population, is under threat due to recurrent occurrence of bird flu. Many of these wetlands come under Ramsar sites with rich biodiversity.

Vulnerable areas

T.P. Sethumadhavan, former Director of Kerala Veterinary and Animal Sciences University (KVASU) and Professor at the University of Trans-Disciplinary Health Sciences, Bengaluru, said the Kuttanad area under Ramsar sites reported frequent confirmation of Avian influenza.

Five outbreaks occurred in Alappuzha district alone during the last quarter. Besides, there was bird flu confirmation from Kottayam and Thiruvananthapuram. He said the Kuttanad belt is prone to infection as the area has its own native breeds of ducks. Farmers and entrepreneurs are rearing large flocks under scientific intensive management and nomadic systems. However, the sudden outbreak of the disease affect the livelihood of farmers.

The reason for each outbreak is pointing towards migratory birds in the area. Since control of migratory birds is very difficult, he said it is high time to identify sustainable measures to reduce the recurrence of infection annually.

The State Government should take in to account emerging and constant issues arising out of bird flu while implementing the modified Kuttanad package. Duck farming is one of the traditional farming systems in the area. Multidisciplinary diagnostic studies based on soil, water, air, cultivation practices are required. Outbreaks affect serious threat to rural economy, affecting consumption and widening the demand-supply gap. The continuing outbreak started hitting the market potential of duck meat, egg and broiler chicken meat, he added.



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