Home > Current Affairs > National > Outbreak of Bird Flu In Kerala as WHO warns about H5N1 variant

Outbreak of Bird Flu In Kerala as WHO warns about H5N1 variant

Utkarsh Classes Last Updated 19-04-2024
Outbreak of Bird Flu In Kerala as WHO warns about H5N1 variant Health and Disease 6 min read

Thousands of ducks in the Edathua and Cheruthana in the Kuttanad region of the Alappuzha district of Kerala have been infected by the highly pathogenic Avian Influenza H5N1. This has caused alarm in the region as the World Health Organisation has also recently warned about the danger of H5N1 bird flu which has an extraordinarily high mortality rate in humans.

The first avian influenza virus A (H5N1) outbreak was reported in a poultry farm in Navapur, Maharashtra, in February 2006.

Bird Flu in Kerala 

The latest case of bird flu in the Alappuzha district was first reported on 12 April 2024. The carcasses of the infected birds were sent to the National Institute of High-Security Animal Disease, Bhopal, for testing. The institute confirmed the presence of the H5N1 virus in the bird carcasses. After confirmation, the district authorities announced the presence of bird flu in the area.

The district authorities have decided to kill and destroy all domestic birds within a one-kilometre radius of the epicentre.

Avian flu outbreaks have been reported four times in the region in the last three years. Bird flu cases were reported in 2021, 2022 and 2023 from Kuttanad, Thakazy Gram Panchayat and Vazhuthanam.

The district authorities have said there is no chance of the bird flu infecting the humans.

WHO warning on new Variant of Bird Flu

The World Health Organisation (WHO) chief scientist Jeremy Farrar has warned about the spread of the H5N1 bird flu virus, which has an extraordinarily high mortality rate in infected humans. 

According to the WHO chief scientist, the H5N1 virus has recently been found to spread within several mammal species, including domestic cattle in the United States of America.

For the first time cows and goats have been found infected by the virus. A person in Texas, US was found to be infected from bird flu after being exposed to cows. 

According to the WHO, there is no evidence yet that an infected person can transfer the virus to another person, but the possibility of that is high in future. The H5N1 virus is evolving rapidly. Earlier it used to spread amongst birds, but now it has spread to mammals like cows and goats. The virus can evolve, and a human to human transmission could happen in future.

According to the WHO, the mortality rate in cases where humans have been infected through contact with animals over the past 20 years is extraordinarily high as humans have no natural immunity to the virus.

According to the WHO, from  2003 to 2024, 889 cases and 463 deaths caused by H5N1 have been reported worldwide from 23 countries, having a fatality rate at 52%.

What is Avian Influenza or Bird Flu

The disease was first reported in Vietnam in 2003. The disease has spread to almost all parts of the globe.  

Avian influenza (H5N1) or bird flu is a disease of birds (Avians) caused by several types of influenza virus. It is a very contagious disease that spreads quickly among birds or ducks.

These viruses naturally spread among wild birds worldwide, and, from them, it can infect domestic poultry and other bird and animal species. 

Bird flu viruses do not normally infect humans. However, certain cases of human infections with bird flu viruses have been found. 

Infected birds shed avian influenza viruses through their saliva, mucus and faeces. 

A person can get infected by the virus when the virus is inhaled by the person or through the person’s eyes, nose or mouth.

Symptoms of infection in humans include cough, muscle aches, runny nose and sore throat. The disease may cause severe pneumonia in a person, leading to death.

The World Health Organisation was founded on 7 April 1948 as a United Nations agency. It has 194 member states.

The WHO headquarters are in Geneva, Switzerland, and the Director General is Dr.Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.


Answer: Kerala, Alappuzha district

Answer: In a poultry farm in Nawapur, Maharashtra, in February 2006.

Answer: Vietnam in 2003

Answer: Virus A type of H5N1

Answer: Geneva, Switzerland.
Leave a Review

Utkarsh Classes

Download India's Best Educational App

With the trust and confidence that our students have placed in us, the Utkarsh Mobile App has become India’s Best Educational App on the Google Play Store. We are striving to maintain the legacy by updating unique features in the app for the facility of our aspirants.