Water bird
Eight birds died within 24 hours at the zoo in Gwalior due to the H1N1 virus. Their samples have been sent to Jabalpur Veterinary University for research. [Representational image]Reuters

bird flu outbreak has been reported in Delhi, where a zoological park faced temporary shutdown after a few water birds, such as pelicans and ducks, were found to be infected by the disease last week.

This comes after India declared itself free from this contagious disease earlier this September. A few samples of these dead ducks have been sent to Mathura and Jalandhar, where they will be tested for the H5N1 virus, reported the Indian Express.

Avian influenza (AI), which is popularly known as bird flu, is a very contagious viral infection that affects birds and humans. Poultry species like chicken, turkeys, geese and ducks are usually the most affected birds.

The most common bird flu virus is H5N1, which is deadly for birds and humans. This fatal disease first caused an epidemic in 1997 and claimed many lives, according to World Health Organisation (WHO).

Another bird flu virus called H7N9, which is a low pathogenic AI virus, had infected three people in March 2013. Other bird flu viruses that infect people are: H6N1, H5N6 and H10N8.

How humans catch bird flu virus

Humans are likely to contract the virus through direct or indirect contact with the poultry species, even if they are dead. The virus enters the humans through eyes, mouth or the nose and cleaning or plucking of infected birds also leads to contamination. However, it is still not known if well prepared food also carries the virus. 

If not treated on time, this viral disease can lead to grave consequences such as multiple organ failure.

Symptoms of bird flu:

Fever

Cough

Runny nose

Headache

Sore throat

Muscle aches

Diarrhoea

Nausea

Abdominal pain

Respiratory ailments, including difficulty in breathing, respiratory failure, breathlessness, pneumonia and acute respiratory distress.

How is bird flu treated?

Bird flu is treated with the help of antiviral drug called oseltamivir (Tamiflu) or zanamivir (Relenza), which aid in reducing the severity of this ailment. The patients are recommended to rest well and consume a healthy diet, which includes good fluid intake. The people suffering from bird flu are usually kept in isolation to prevent the disease from spreading further. Others in contact with the patient are also given AI antivirals as a preventive measure. 

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