Bengal bird flu spreads to humans.
India may record its first human bird flu cases if five persons in West Bengal, under observation for displaying "clinical symptoms" associated with the infection after handling backyard poultry, are confirmed to be afflicted with the disease. All five are residents of Murshidabad, one of seven West Bengal districts to have been hit by the deadly H5N1 virus in its latest outbreak in India, and have been quarantined and administered Tamiflu - the most effective antibiotic against avian influenza.
Investigations revealed that the men had handled backyard poultry soon after the disease infected and killed birds. The outbreak has been traced to small pens maintained by individuals rather than large farms. The men reported influenza-like symptoms including fever, cough, sore throat and muscle ache. Some of them are also suspected to be suffering from respiratory illness like pneumonia. A special team from the National Institute of Virology (NIV), Pune, collected blood and throat samples of the patients on Sunday.
They are being tested by scientists at the National Institute of Cholera and Enteric Diseases (NICED), Kolkata, and Delhi's National Institute of Virology and National Institute of Communicable Diseases - the only three bio safety level (BSL)-III labs in India equipped to test human samples for avian influenza. The next 24 hours will be a nervous wait for officials monitoring the outbreak as final reports are expected on Tuesday.
Dr Sekhar Chakraborty, NICED scientist, said: "Scientists from our institute have already left for Pune and Delhi with five human samples to be tested at NIV and NICD. An NIV team collected the samples. All the five individuals have shown clinical symptoms of the disease and also had a history of handling infected and dead poultry. We should complete our tests by Tuesday morning." Indiatimes.
Tags: Bird Flu.
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