Why in News:
- China has confirmed the first instance of human infection from H10N3, a rare strain of a virus that normally infects poultry.
What is H10N3?
- H10N3 is a subtype of the Influenza A virus which is commonly known as the bird flu virus.
What is avian influenza (Bird Flu)?
- H5N1 is the most common virus causing bird flu, or avian influenza. Though largely restricted to birds, and often fatal to them, it can cross over to other animals, as well as humans. According to the WHO, the H5N1 was first discovered in humans in 1997 and has killed almost 60% of those infected. Though it is not known to transmit easily among humans, the risk remains.
- There are several subtypes of the avian influenza virus. Since 2003, these avian and other influenza viruses have spread from Asia to Europe and Africa. All known subtypes of influenza A viruses can infect birds, except subtypes H17N10 and H18N11, which have only been found in bats.
- Only two influenza A virus subtypes (i.e., H1N1, and H3N2) are currently in general circulation among people.
What are the typical symptoms of an avian influenza infection?
- According to the WHO, avian, swine and other zoonotic influenza virus infections in humans may cause disease with symptoms like mild upper respiratory tract infection (fever and cough), early sputum production and rapid progression to severe pneumonia, sepsis with shock, acute respiratory distress syndrome, and even death.
- Conjunctivitis, gastrointestinal symptoms, encephalitis and encephalopathy have also been reported in varying degrees depending on the subtype.
Impact of Avian Influenza
- Avian Influenza outbreaks can lead to devastating consequences for the country, particularly the poultry industry.
- Farmers might experience a high level of mortality in their flocks, with rates often around 50%.
National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC)
- It functions as the nodal agency in the country for disease surveillance facilitating prevention and control of communicable diseases. The Institute is under administrative control of the Director General of Health Services, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.
Functions of NCDC
- Undertakes investigations of disease outbreaks all over the country.
- Provides referral diagnostic services to individuals, community, medical colleges, research institutions and state health directorates.
- Engaged in generation and dissemination of knowledge in various areas like Epidemiology, Surveillance, and Laboratories etc.
- Applied integrated research in various aspects of communicable as well as some aspects of non-communicable diseases has been one of the prime functions of the Institute.