Does India need to be concerned about the avian flu outbreak? | In Focus podcast

Dr Subramanian Swaminathan explains how and why the recent avian flu outbreak occurred, what the concerns for India are, and the necessity for better preparedness measures as well as reforms in the poultry sector.

Published - June 11, 2024 06:21 pm IST

Avian influenza, commonly known as bird flu is back in the news again – at least four states in India: Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Kerala and Jharkhand have already reported outbreaks among poultry. The Centre has asked all States to be vigilant, and said all necessary measures have to be taken to prevent its spread.

It’s not just in India that bird flu is in the news though – the United States has been battling this problem as the infection has now spread to cattle herds in several states in that country.

The World Health Organisation recently said that A (H5N1) strain of avian influenza has become “a global zoonotic animal pandemic” with thousands of animals infected across multiple countries.

While so far there is no evidence that H5N1 virus is spreading from human to human, the risk remains for people who come into contact with infected animals.

Two cases were in the headlines recently – one of a child who was diagnosed with H5N1 in Australia where she had just returned after a trip to Kolkata, and another case in Mexico, where a man died of a strain of bird flu called H5N2, which had never before been found in humans.

What are the ramifications of bird flu in India? Who is vulnerable to the disease and how can its transmission be curtailed? How do we ensure the safety of eggs, chicken and other animal products? And does India need reforms in its poultry and animal food sector to ensure better safety of animal and human health?

Guest: Dr Subramanian Swaminathan, Director of Infectious diseases at Gleneagles Hospital. Vice president clinical infectious diseases society of India.

Host: Zubeda Hamid

Edited by Jude Francis Weston

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