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Bird Flu: Centre issues health alert to states
With many deaths of ducks in the last one week due to H5N8 avian influenza, commonly known as bird flu, the Union health ministry on Tuesday issued a health advisory to states on tackling bird flu situation.

Birds in Delhi, Gwalior (Madhya Pradesh) and Kerala have tested positive avian influenza AH5N8. Delhi Zoo was also shut after some of the birds found dead within the premises tested positive for bird flu. Hence, the health ministry has asked states to minimise bird-human interface to prevent an outbreak of the disease.

A senior health ministry official said, "WHO was part of the technical committee meeting that we conducted on the flu situation in the country. We were given a written assurance that the risk of humans getting infected was very low....They obviously are saying on the basis of current knowledge available globally. It is a sub-type and just about three cases of human transmission have been reported so far," reported Hindustan Times.

H5N8 avian influenza is a disease of birds, caused by Type "A" influenza viruses, which can affect several species of domestic poultry, such as chickens, turkeys, quails, guinea fowl, ducks, as well as pet birds, wild migratory birds and water fowl.

The virus can spread among birds through direct contact with secretions from infected birds, contaminated feed, water, equipment, and human clothing and shoes. However, there are no known cases of H5N8 in human beings. Risk to general public is very low.

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