- As we all have experienced over the last few months, the novel coronavirus pandemic has rendered the entire humanity rudderless showing us how vulnerable we stand when confronted with such a humongous challenge mounted by the spread of Zoonotic menace. Humans as well as countries are still battling it out to curb the virulent spread is stating the obvious. Strict lockdowns enforced as a measure not only locked out economies leaving them shattered but also set back the livelihoods of billions who are still struggling to eke out a dignified living.
PC: Dr Sampurna Roy MD
- With the vaccination drive underway in many of the countries finally, including India, comes the reports about avian influenza (bird flu) striking few states with many more states waiting for test reports to confirm. Avian influenza is not a new phenomenon since the same is making its presence for the last couple of decades with sporadic outbreaks. For the record, India had witnessed the first outbreak in 2005-06 resulting in more than a million birds getting culled in the states of Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh but thankfully dd not spread across the country.
- Ever since that outbreak, the virus has resurfaced with varying epicenters but never fully crossing the boundaries to spread wide across. However, what is most disconcerting this time around causing grave concern is the extensive spread being witnessed in states like Gujarat, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, and Uttar Pradesh reporting confirmed cases. Most notably, the states of Chhattisgarh, Delhi, and Maharashtra is awaiting test results for confirmation of the outbreak. Coming close on the heels of the pandemic, the bird flu outbreak will only add to the challenges galore with no signs of immediate respite visible.
PC: Karishma Jain
- For the uninitiated, bird flu is primarily spread owing to the proximity of commercially reared birds to wild or migratory ones. A such, the question of safe and hygienic food production raised by COVID-19 appears to be revisiting. One comforting factor to note here is that bird flu virus strains rarely jump species. Few cases reported where humans have been infected involve either direct contact with live birds or infected surfaces. Most hearteningly, no human case has been reported in the current outbreak. As the birds are culled, ensuring personnel is protected assumes paramount importance for the authorities involved.
- The Health authorities should subscribe to scientifically approved measures to stop the outbreak from spreading further. Sealing and imposing curbs at the borders will not protect the states as birds cannot be expected or restricted to travel on land alone. Endorsing better disease surveillance leading to better coordination will serve everybody much better. Also, needs to contend with the economic costs of undertaking culling of birds without offering due compensation or mechanism to buffer the losses accrued to the businesses.
- We all have experienced what ill-effects misinformation can impose on several sectors of the economy during the pandemic. Thus, avoiding false information and fake news propaganda should be best avoided. A case in point is some political leaders already making statements to ban poultry. It is known that well-cooked chicken and eggs do not carry the virus. Canards being spread should be effectively curtailed or else, the poultry industry and eateries will be hugely impacted.