India declares itself free from bird flu

New Delhi: India has declared itself free from the highly contagious avian influenza (H5N1) or bird flu even as it stressed the need for continued surveillance.

“India has declared itself free from avian influenza (H5N1) from September 5, 2016 and notified the same to the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE),” the Department of Animal Husbandry under the Agriculture Ministry said in a statement.

In a letter to Chief Secretaries of states, the Centre has emphasised the need for “continued surveillance especially in the vulnerable areas bordering infected countries and in areas visited by migratory birds”.

India had notified outbreak of avian influenza on May 9, 2016 at Humnabad, Bidar district, Karnataka. In areas on the one-kilometre radius of the outbreak location, the government took measures, including culling, disinfection and clean-up, to contain the spread of avian influenza.

“Post the surveillance, the state has shown no evidence of presence of the disease. There has been no further outbreak reported in the country thereafter,” the ministry said.

Bird flu affects mainly the domestic poultry. The disease spreads from infected birds to other winged creatures through contact with nasal and respiratory secretions and also due to contamination of feed and water.