Why in the News?


Recently, the World Health Organization (WHO) reported that a 59-year-old individual from Mexico had passed away from the first confirmed case of infection with the H5N2 strain of bird flu globally.


About H5N2 Strain of Bird Flu


  • The H5N2 strain is a subtype of the avian influenza virus, also known as bird flu. This strain belongs to the larger group of H5 avian influenza viruses, which are identified by their hemagglutinin (H) and neuraminidase (N) proteins on the virus’s surface. The “H5” denotes the type of hemagglutinin protein, while “N2” denotes the type of neuraminidase protein.
  • H5N2 primarily infects birds, causing severe respiratory and systemic illnesses in poultry and wild birds. It has been responsible for significant outbreaks in poultry farms, leading to substantial economic losses due to the need to cull infected flocks to prevent the virus’s spread.
  • While H5N2 is primarily a bird virus, there have been occasional cases of human infection, usually involving individuals who have had close contact with infected birds or contaminated environments. The potential for H5N2 to mutate and infect humans more easily is a concern for public health officials, prompting ongoing surveillance and research to monitor and control its spread.


Subtypes of Bird Flu


  • Avian influenza is caused by influenza viruses that primarily infect birds. The influenza A virus, which causes avian influenza, is divided into several subtypes based on two proteins: hemagglutinin (H) and neuraminidase (N). 
  • There are 18 known hemagglutinin (H1-H18) and 11 known neuraminidase (N1-N11) subtypes. These can combine to form various HN subtypes, many of which have been identified in birds. Some of the most notable subtypes include:
  1. H5N1: Known for causing severe disease in birds and humans, this subtype has led to numerous outbreaks and fatalities since it was first detected in humans in 1997.
  2. H7N9: First reported in humans in 2013, this subtype has caused serious illness and fatalities. It has been associated with poultry markets in China.
  3. H9N2: Commonly found in birds and has occasionally infected humans, typically causing mild respiratory illness.
  4. H5N2: This subtype is known for infecting birds and has caused significant outbreaks in poultry, though human infections are rare.
  5. H5N8: This virus primarily affects birds and has led to several outbreaks worldwide. Human infections are rare but have been reported.
  6. H7N7: Known to infect both birds and humans, this subtype has caused several outbreaks in poultry and occasional human cases.
  7. H5N6: Has caused bird outbreaks and sporadic human infections, sometimes resulting in severe disease.
  8. H10N8: A rare subtype detected in humans, causing severe respiratory illness and fatalities in a few cases.
  9. H6N:  Mostly affects birds, but at least one reported human infection has been reported.
  10. H7N2: Primarily infects birds, with occasional human cases reported, typically resulting in mild illness.
  11. H7N3: Known to infect birds and has caused mild to moderate illness in humans.
  12. H7N4: Rarely infects humans, with few reported cases typically linked to exposure to infected birds.


Spread of Bird Flu


  • Direct Contact: People can contract bird flu through close interaction with an animal’s bodily fluids, such as saliva, respiratory droplets, or droppings. This transmission can happen by inhaling tiny dust particles in animal environments or by touching these fluids and then bringing them into contact with the eyes, nose, or mouth.
  • Indirect Contact: Infection can also occur by touching contaminated surfaces and subsequently touching the face or mouth.
  • Wild Bird Migration: The virus can spread across regions by migrating wild birds.
  • Contact Between Infected and Healthy Birds: Transmission can happen when healthy birds come into direct contact with infected ones.
  • Human-to-Human Transmission: Although rare, there have been instances of the virus spreading from person to person, typically among individuals with very close contact, such as a mother caring for her ill child.
  • National Programmes to Contain Bird Flu


1. Surveillance and Monitoring

  • Integrated Disease Surveillance Programme (IDSP): The government actively monitors the seasonal influenza situation across various states through the IDSP network, providing real-time data.
  • National Centre for Disease Control: The NCDC oversees the surveillance of influenza-like illnesses (ILI) and severe acute respiratory infections (SARI) in health facilities’ outpatient and inpatient departments.

2. Culling and Restriction of Movement

  • Culling of Infected Birds: Authorities in Jharkhand have culled over 2,000 birds, including chickens and ducks, to control the virus’s spread.
  • Restricting Movement: Measures have been implemented to restrict the movement of infected birds and ensure that related data is publicly accessible to prevent further spread of the virus.

3. Public Health Measures

  • Personal Protective Equipment: Individuals handling sick or dead birds are advised to use personal protective equipment to reduce the risk of infection.
  • Quarantine: Eight individuals, including two doctors who were exposed to infected birds, have been placed under quarantine.
  • Chemoprophylaxis: People exposed to infected birds are provided with chemoprophylaxis (Oseltamivir 75 mg) once daily for 10 days as a preventive measure.

4. Research and Development

  • Genomic Sequencing: The National Institute of High-Security Animal Diseases (NIHSAD) is conducting genomic sequencing of avian influenza viruses in India, identifying subtypes such as H9N2, H5N1, and H5N8.
  • Vaccine Development: Research is underway to develop vaccines against highly pathogenic avian influenza in birds and animals.

5. Coordination and Communication

  • Action Plan: The Department of Animal Husbandry, Dairying, and Fisheries has established an action plan for the prevention, control, and containment of avian influenza.
  • Advisories: States and union territories receive advisories to minimise bird-human interaction, use personal protective equipment, and provide chemoprophylaxis to those at risk.


Download Yojna daily current affairs eng med 7th June 2024


Prelims Based Question


Q. Consider the following statements regarding Bird Flu:

  1. People to People transmission of Bird Flu is not Possible.
  2. Culling is the most common practice employed in India to contain Bird Flu.

Choose the correct answer using the codes given below:

(a). 1 Only

(b). 2 Only

(c). Both 1 and 2

(d). Neither 1 nor 2




Mains Based Question



Q. Time and over again Bird Flu has impacted the poultry industry in India in a very drastic way. What are the national strategies to contain the menace of Bird Flu?


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