Avian influenza discovered in more states in India

February 11, 2021 - As of January 27, 2021, Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) outbreaks are confirmed in nine states1 for poultry, and in 12 states for migratory and non-migratory birds, including crow populations, according to a report published by USDA.

Avian Influenza was confirmed in poultry samples from the districts of Nanded, Solapur, Pune, Ahmednagar, Buldhana, Akola, Nashik, and Hingoli in Maharashtra; Bhavnagar district in Gujarat and Dhamtari district in Chhattisgarh.

Control and containment operations, including culling, cleaning and disinfection are occurring in the various disease epicenters.

The Government of Maharashtra has authorized a compensation package of INR 13 million (USD $178,100) for culling poultry and other birds, destroying eggs and poultry feed considered infected with HPAI. The disease control will occur within a one-kilometer radius of the infected area, carried out via the Bird Flu Disease Control Program. Compensation is paid to farmers whose poultry birds, eggs and poultry feed are culled or disposed by the State as per the DAHD’s Action Plan 2021.

The DAHD provides funds to states and Union Territories on a 50 percent cost-sharing basis under the Assistance to States for Control of Animal Disease (ASCAD) component of its Livestock Health & Disease Control Scheme.

On January 6, the Government of Kerala announced a similar plan to compensate up to INR 5/egg and INR 100/bird if the animal is aged below 60 days, and INR 200 for older poultry birds (media reports). These government actions intend to assist poultry farmers recover their losses. It is possible that other affected states may take similar actions.

In mid-January, nervous consumers had reduced purchases of chicken and poultry products, despite consumer awareness campaigns through social and digital media to allay fears. In a span of a more than a week starting January 4, chicken and egg sales slowed down by 10 to 15 percent. Farm gate chicken prices fell 10-30 percent in different parts of the country. Likewise, egg prices dropped 15-25 percent.

On January 21, to prevent misinformation and reduce fear of poultry and egg consumption, the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India issued a guidance note for food business operators and consumers on the safe handling, processing and consumption of poultry and eggs.

Household and restaurant poultry sales have reportedly slowed down; while other meats including pork, goat, lamb, fish, and seafood have amplified. Last year, India's poultry industry suffered heavy losses due to false speculation on social media that chicken contributed to the spread of the coronavirus, while the COVID-19 national lockdown to contain the virus squeezed demand.