India is declared bird flu- free
Govt confirms new strain of bird flu, but says no danger from it. [Representational image]Reuters

The National Institute for High Security Animal Diseases (NIHSAD) in Bhopal has confirmed that the bird flu that is surfacing in different parts of India is an entirely new strain, called H5N8. The department of animal husbandry, dairying and fisheries (DADF) is making all efforts to ensure that it does not turn dangerous, according to a statement from the ministry of agriculture.

"Till now, no human infections with H5N8 has been established anywhere in the world. However, necessary precautions are to be undertaken while handling sick or dead birds and contaminated material during control and containment operations," the statement said, adding that there was no need to panic. "As per OIE, the avian Influenza disease in wild or migratory birds does not affect the status of the country; hence there are no trade implications," it said. OIE is the World Organisation for Animal Health.

The first signs of this outbreak of bird flu surfaced at National Zoo Park in New Delhi, and samples were sent to NIHSAD for confirmation. 

The origin
NIHSAD confirmed that this was an outbreak of bird flu as early as on Monday, October 17. According to the agriculture ministry statement: "These samples were earlier tested positive for Influenza A virus at Northern Regional Disease Diagnostic Laboratory (NRDDL), Jalandhar. Immediately, the advisory was issued to the director, Animal Husbandry, Delhi Administration, [who] the director, NZP, and were requested to send the report to the department."

The statement also said: "The NZP on October 18 said that the mortality was among the wild birds and not the captive birds. The mortality started on October 14. Between October 14 and 17, there was mortality of nine birds: five rosy pelican, three ducks and one painted stork."

Guidelines issued
It added: "The department has issued the necessary guidelines to the state government and the zoo authorities on control and containment of the infection. The Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change has also been requested to issue advisories to all wildlife and bird sanctuaries in the country to be on alert and take necessary actions for prevention of the disease."