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  Live update/ Gwalior: 15 bird deaths in zoo spark fear of bird flu

The return of Avian FluBird Flu returned to haunt India, only a month after it was declared free from avian
influenza (H5N1) on September 5, 2016

Two days into the death of nine water birds in Delhi, at least 10 more birds were found dead in the city. Gwalior zoo met with the same fate a couple of days back when it had to shut down after pelicans and storks became victims of bird flu.

India is one of six nations in the world where the disease keeps surfacing among birds. During the last outbreak among poultry in Karnataka in May 2016, 33,000 birds had to be culled. Interestingly, bird flu outbreak was reported in Germany and Laos at the same time. Let's take a look at the global spread of the disease and India's struggle to become bird flu-free.

The history of bird flu in India

Bird flu first broke out in India in 2006 and millions of chickens and ducks have been culled since then to contain the virus, but it has resurfaced from time to time. The 2008 bird flu outbreak in West Bengal and 2014 outbreak in Kerala revealed that the moist cold climate is conducive for the quick spread of the virus. Delayed action and faulty planning on the government's part had sometimes let the situation spiral out of control.

Move mouse on graph to see number of Birds culled in Lakh and on graph number shows Compensation Paid in Lakh

Number of Birds Culled (in Lakh)
Data Source: Ministry of Agriculture, Govt. of India.

Global spread of Avian flu
move mouse on bird icons to see details

Data Source: World Organisation of Animal Health (OiE), June 2015

Bird flu cases in humans

WHO explains on its website that the H5N1 bird flu can be found in humans but it does not spread from person to person. Nevertheless, as flu viruses do mutate, a close eye is kept on the disease. The H5N1 is the original bird flu that caused a bit of a panic in Asia in late 2003 as some human cases were reported.

In 2004, certain countries such as New Zealand had emergency plans in place in case of the spread of the disease.

Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention