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India logs second ever human case of bird flu in Bengal: How to stay safe

A bird flu case of infection in a human being was detected in a four year old in West Bengal. The patient, admitted to a local hospital since February, has been treated and discharged

bird flu in west bengal

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Nisha Anand New Delhi

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The World Health Organization (WHO) on Tuesday confirmed a human case of bird flu in India caused by the H9N2 virus, involving a four-year-old child in West Bengal.

India’s first ever bird flu infection in humans was reported in 2019.

The child, hospitalised in February due to respiratory illness and high fever, was discharged three months later after diagnosis and treatment, the WHO said.

The patient reported suffering from abdominal cramps. The cause of the child’s infection is said to be exposure to poultry at home and surroundings. The global health body also noted that none of the child’s other contacts reported any respiratory illness.

What is bird flu? How is it caused?

1. The US Centre for Disease Control and Prevention explains the bird flu infection as a type of infection caused by avian influenza Type A viruses. Usually, it is expected to affect wild aquatic birds, domestic poultry and other bird and animal species. However, human cases of bird flu infection are not unusual and have been reported in the past.

2. The vulnerable target group of this infection are usually people with prolonged, unprotected exposures to infected birds or other animals (including livestock) or infected environments contaminated by those birds and animals.

3. In case of mild symptoms of bird flu, patients report suffering from eye infection and respiratory illness. Its severe symptoms include pneumonia that can be fatal, according to the US Centre for Disease Control and Prevention.

How to prevent oneself from catching bird flu?

4. The risk of bird flu infection can be reduced by avoiding prolonged exposure to infected birds and livestock. The health body also recommends avoiding uncooked or undercooked food with a special attention towards those linked to poultry. Some of these products include unpasteurised (raw) milk or products made from raw milk, such as cheeses.

5. So far, bird flu cases among birds and animals have been reported in some districts of Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Jharkhand and Kerala.

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First Published: Jun 12 2024 | 4:14 PM IST

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