Orissa is considered as a major migratory waterfowl destination where nearly 1.5 million birds arrive every winter, according to the official reports. This has raised serious concerns regarding the spread of avian flu virus responsible for causing bird flu.
The meat of several avian species, including migratory birds, are a delicacy for many. Though the killing of migratory birds and consumption of their meat mainly takes place in the countryside, on many occasions the hunters bring in the flesh for sale in urban markets. With migratory birds starting to fly into the state, the health authorities have warned the local people against consuming meat of wild birds as it may contain the deadly virus.
The A/H5N1 strain of avian influenza virus could be transmitted to human beings and infect them with fatal consequences. The endangered species of migratory birds from far off Central Asia, Siberia and Russia that travel to the Orissa Coast are likely to carry the highly potential Avian Influenza Virus.
The death of more than 6,000 migratory birds, (mostly bar headed geese) in Qinghai lake of China a few months ago virus had caused much concern since most of the infected birds migrate thousands of kms in winter.
The disease has already affected 11 countries in Asia and is spreading rapidly. Furthermore, the virus has already claimed 65 human lives at Indonesia.
Following the alert by the WHO, a plan has been drawn to monitor 50 bird sanctuaries across the country for the bird flu virus. Mostly the Bar-headed Geese, Brown-headed and Pallas's Gulls and Great Cormorants birds would be watched in the sanctuaries.
The preparedness of the Government to address the issue is very critical at this stage. If appropriate measures are not taken to tackle the situation, it could result in a catastrophic epidemic across the country.