High Alert on Bird Flu: Potential for Genetic Variation to Enable Human Transmission

The state government has issued an alert regarding bird flu due to the potential for the virus to spread to humans if a genetic mutation occurs. Bird flu was confirmed in Kerala in April, but tests have not shown any human cases so far. The alert was issued after a four-year-old girl in West Bengal was diagnosed with the disease.

There has been one reported death due to bird flu in Mexico. Including the recent case in West Bengal, India has reported two human cases of bird flu, the first of which was in 2019. The H5N2 virus, confirmed in Alappuzha, has also caused fatalities in Mexico. However, the H9N2 virus was identified in the child in Bengal. Both viruses are typically not transmitted to humans.

Health officials have intensified vigilance due to the high possibility of human transmission if a genetic variation occurs. People who come into contact with birds and exhibit symptoms such as fever will have their samples tested. The Alappuzha Institute of Virology has the necessary facilities for testing, and Alappuzha Medical College Hospital is prepared to provide treatment if positive cases are detected. An ICU system with a ventilator was set up during the previous bird flu outbreak.

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