Thiruvananthapuram: Kerala Government on Thursday confirmed an outbreak of avian influenza of H5N8 among ducks in water-logged Kuttanad in Alappuzha District, but allied apprehension that the disease would spread to humans.
Replying to a submission in this regard in state Assembly, Forest and Animal Husbandry Minister K Raju said preliminary examination of the samples confirmed the affliction and nearly 1,500 infected ducks had been culled in the region.
Effective steps have been taken to monitor the situation and movement of ducks restricted in the region to check the further spread of the disease, he said.
"Preliminary examinations have confirmed the outbreak of H5N8 virus, an influenza A virus sub-type, in Kuttanad region. But, it is not fatal and will not spread to human beings," Raju said.
However, the government was viewing the issue with utmost seriousness and steps had been taken to contain the situation, he said.
"Control rooms have been opened and 20 task force teams, led by doctors, deployed in the affected areas to monitor the situation," he said.
The Minister also said the compensation for the ducks culled would be given as per the provision.
More than two months-old ducks would be given Rs 200 and below that would be given Rs 100.
For each egg destroyed, a compensation of Rs 5 would be given, he said, adding that the amount would be given after verifying the figures.
Intervening, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said the government would seriously consider setting up a hi-tech laboratory to test avian diseases as the state was witnessing frequent outbreak of avian influenza.
He also said the issue was a serious one as most of the people, engaged in duck rearing, belonged to very poor background and it was their only means for livelihood.
Making the submission, Leader of the Opposition Ramesh Chennithala said people in the affected areas were anxious whether the disease would spread to human beings.
Urging the government to take effective steps to check its further spread, he said the influenza was feared to have spotted in neighbouring Kottayam and Pathanamthitta districts.
The cases of avian influenza have been reported from Thakazhi, Ramankari, Pandi, Pallippad and Kainadi in Alappuza district.
It is suspected that the migratory birds which came from Siberia via Pakistan and Delhi, might have brought the virus to coastal Kerala. The bird flu has been reported in Delhi, Madhya Pradesh and some other parts of the country.
The outbreak of the virus in ducks in Kerala was confirmed after tests of samples at the National Institute of High Security Animal Diseases at Bhopal, the district administration had said on Tuesday.