Written by: Noor Fatima B.S student, Faculty of Agriculture Sciences and Technology, Bahauddin Zakariya University, Multan, Pakistan. Pakistan is blessed with many agriculture resources and Livestock is one of them. In Pakistan, the most important component of agriculture is livestock and constitutes 56.3 per ce...
Is the BIRD-FLUE becoming a new THREAT after the NOVEL CORONA VIRUS outbreak?
The recent outbreak of coronavirus has emerged as the most deadly event in the start of 2020. The total death toll has crossed the 1300 lives and this score is going up with every moment passing. The scientific groups are working hard to cope with this killing virus. However, until now, no specific treatment has been reported yet.
Still, the consequences of Coronavirus are not off, the new threat is signalling to come over. This new threat is from bird-flue. Bird-flue is caused by rapidly multiplying influenza virus. Due to its characteristics of rapid multiplication, it is very difficult to determine the actual internal structure of the virus.
Why is the bird-flue a threat today?
Recent sporadic outbreaks around the globe are indications for the prevailing situation of bird-flue. The members of VetRangers are keenly observing the situation of global poultry. According to recent news on different online poultry portals, it seems that something is going to be worse soon if proper precautions are taken into account. Some of the outbreaks that we came to know are described below.
A report from Chinese Poultry industry showed the existence of highly pathogenic strain of avian influenza virus (H5 N1) at different farms in Hunan province. Although China has been suffering from novel Corona Virus outbreak, the spread of the influenza virus will cost them a crushing stone. Generally, low pathogenic influenza virus infections in the Chinese poultry industry are common but this time highly pathogenic virus has attacked the poultry birds. At one location, 4550 birds were killed at the spot. Moreover, to stop the spread of disease, 18090 birds were culled. It is important to note that the H5 N1 strain of the avian influenza virus can cause 60% in human.
Pakistan shares the border and trade with China. There is a huge movement of personals and trade elements from China to Pakistan and vice versa. A few days ago, I came to know from a local news channel that five people in Karachi city of Sindh province in Pakistan passed away within a month due to bird-flue. It means being a neighbouring country to China, Pakistan is the most vulnerable to bird-flue attack. There no figures available regarding poultry farms status for influenza virus infection. However, the news that we got is available in Urdu at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tU-cVXjVhwg for the confirmation of the reader.
Scotland poultry farms have been spotted for the presence of influenza virus but it was of lower pathogenicity. The influenza virus was located in egg-laying poultry farms where free-range feeding and rearing was being practised. It was suggested by the authorities that the virus was probably introduced by wild birds. This is more alarming because the wild birds such as ducks, quails, cranes and several others, they often migrate from one location to another. This displacement of wild birds can spread the virus to a wider region. Hence, it is of most concern to take precautionary actions at larger scale even at a geographical scale.
According to a report published in Poultry World magazine, the German poultry industry has also suffered from bird-flue attack with highly pathogenic H5 N8 virus. This outbreak was reported in three main towns of Baden-Wurttemberg province. This virus was so lethal that it caused the death of 44 birds out of 69 within no time. Similar to Scotland authorities, German organizations also blamed the wild birds to carry and spread this virus.
The highly pathogenic influenza virus was also found in Poland in the 2nd week of February 2020. Several incidences were confirmed for H5N8 infection at different poultry farms. This virus was identified in laying chickens kept at a farm located in Wielkopolska province. The virus strain in this outbreaks is suspected to be H5 N8. Additionally, H5 N8 infection has been also confirmed in turkey farm of 40000 birds. At the other three locations, turkey farms were reported to have a deadly influenza virus in Poland.
Influenza virus infection/Bird-flue has been an enemy in the past. History tells us that the United States of America was affected significantly in an outbreak of H1 N1 strain during the year 2009. Other countries were also contaminated and thousands of people died due to this deadly virus.
Today, more than 70% of the food commodities have chicken meat or eggs fully or partially. There are chances that the consumers of poultry products are at higher risk of getting the infection. The current trend shows that the infection is spreading world-wide and there is need to take strong preliminary precautions against the spread of bird-flue.
Get vaccinated and stay safe
Developed countries have been successful in preparing the vaccine for influenza. Health Departments in United States and Australia are recommending several types of vaccines such as Trivirulent influenza vaccine which protects against three types of influenza viruses including H1N1-pdm09-like virus, H3N2-like virus and Victoria lineage influenza virus-B.
What should a Veterinarian do?
There are some responsibilities for poultry veterinarians. The veterinarians should immediately report the infection if they suspect the infection is of bird-flue. Proper disinfection of the farm and its premises after evacuation and culling of the birds is necessary. The veterinarians should also consult the wildlife department for any suspected birds. The border veterinarian should ensure that the no animal crosses the line before a complete quarantine period.