Avian Flu Outbreak Confirmed at Kerala Poultry Farm, Authorities Take Strict Measures
Avian Flu Outbreak Confirmed at Kerala Poultry Farm, Authorities Take Strict Measures

An avian flu (H5N1) outbreak has been confirmed at a government-run poultry farm in Manarcad, Kerala, the district administration announced on Thursday.

In response, authorities have decided to euthanize and cremate all domesticated and pet birds within a one-kilometer radius of the farm. The affected area will undergo disinfection, and a 1 to 10 km radius around the farm has been declared a surveillance zone. Additionally, a ban on the sale and import of poultry products, including chicken, duck, quail, and other birds, has been imposed in Kottayam district.

These measures were decided after an inter-departmental meeting at the Collectorate, where district Collector V Vigneshwari confirmed the outbreak. The farm, operated by the Animal Husbandry Department, had about nine thousand chickens at the time.

The National Institute of High-Security Animal Diseases lab in Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh, confirmed the H5N1 outbreak after testing samples from chickens that had died in large numbers at the farm.

Extent of Bird Flu in Cattle Remains Unclear

The full extent of the bird flu outbreak in cattle is still unknown, but recent findings suggest it may be more widespread than documented. On April 23, the US Food and Drug Administration found fragments of the H5N1 virus in the milk supply, confirming that pasteurization inactivates the virus. While pasteurized milk is safe, health officials advise against consuming raw, unpasteurized milk.


The virus can be present in cows that show no signs of infection, and their milk does not display typical signs such as being thicker or yellow. To contain the outbreak, the US government requires dairy cattle moving between states to be tested for bird flu.

Timeline of the Bird Flu Outbreak

US officials initially thought the outbreak was recent, but new research suggests it may have started in late 2023. A study funded by the US Department of Agriculture and the CDC found that bird flu was likely circulating in a limited manner as far back as late last year. The study suggests that wild birds transmit the virus to cattle, which then spread it when moved to other states.

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