y the time you read this lakhs of chickens will have died of avian flu. Some will have died naturally. Others will have been beaten to death or strangled. How many do you think will be buried or burnt? Very few. Most of them will land on your plate, sold at reduced prices by the poultries. So what, you say. The newspapers have repeatedly told you that bird flu makes no difference to the quality of chicken you eat and, as long as you cook it, you will come to no harm.
This is utter rubbish and it is being doled out by two interested parties: the poultry industry themselves, so that they do not go completely bankrupt and you continue to buy the diseased dead birds. The second is the government itself: the Animal Husbandry Ministry, which is solely invented to see that India has more poultries, more slaughterhouses. The more animals are eaten, the more successful the Ministry is. Their mandate is NOT sick people. Their mandate is to see that people keep buying chickens, diseased or not. The mandate for looking after sick people belongs to the Ministry of Health. And never the twain shall meet. Every article will tell you that no humans have ever had avian flu. And that it can’t spread from bird to human. This is not true.
If avian flu was not zoonotic why are the birds being killed under the Infectious and Contagious Diseases Prevention Act 2009. The word zoonotic means a disease that can be transmitted to a human by an animal. Do you think any government cares when a bird suffers. The only time they wake up is when they know that the disease of the bird can be transmitted to a human. It was first detected in 18 humans in 1997 working in a live bird market in Hong Kong (again Chinese). The strain was identified as H5N1- the same strain that is in India now – with a high mortality rate. Six of the 18 humans died.
Bird flu has spread across the country. Every single state has it and lakhs are being killed from Himachal Pradesh to Kerala. You, who cower in fear of Covid – this is also a viral flu disease: avian influenza. The Influenza Type A virus has several strains. When it first came to India it was H1N1. Fourteen years later this massive outbreak is from the mutated virus now called H5N1 and H8N1.
Just as syphilis, in every language, means the disease of foreigners, every government believes that avian flu comes from migratory birds from a different country, who spread it as their faeces drop from the air and straight into the poultries. That country may never have had bird flu, but their birds have developed it as they fly towards India?
I find it far more likely that the poultries give it to the migratory birds, who have no resistance and so they die. According to the US Centre of Disease Control and Prevention, six countries are considered the permanent centres for H5N1 virus in poultry. We top the list followed by China, Bangladesh, Vietnam, Indonesia and Egypt. In each of these countries you have to see the horrific conditions that chickens are normally kept in to understand why they fall prey so quickly to avian flu. In India the poultries are like hells on earth. The chickens are kept in filthy small cages unable to move, with sliced off beaks and toes to prevent them from picking each other’s feathers. They are full of sores. Most of them have had rounds of other common diseases: Encephalomyelitis, Chicken Anaemia Virus Infection, Chlamydiosis, Infectious Bronchitis, Infectious Bursal Disease, Infectious Coryza, Infectious Laryngotracheitis, tick fever or Spirochaetosis, Avian Leucosis.
They have permanent diarrhoea, some have bloody diarrhoea from a parasite called coccidia. Most of them cannot walk without extreme difficulty and many have rickets. They have warts and a thick discharge from their eyes, they have pus filled abscesses on their necks and feet. Many of them have diabetes, and a large number have tuberculosis and they can hardly breathe in the damp poisonous air that pervades the poultry. They inhale their own dried faeces. They have a deficiency of Vitamin A and manganese, which makes them lame with swollen eyes. They cough and sneeze. They have round worms and tape worms, lice and fleas, ticks and mites. They live on a diet of antibiotics and dried food with sawdust in it. They die often of heart attacks.
Every now and then they are wiped out by the contagious fowl pox, fowl cholera or Ranikhet disease. How could you think that these diseased unhappy creatures would not get avian flu? How does it spread to humans? From those people who work in poultries – which is how Covid started. And those who eat poultry products. The WHO started by saying that there is no evidence that the virus can spread through food – provided it is cooked at more than 60 degree Celsius. What they have neglected to say is that the chicken is handled by you long before it is cooked. You buy the raw chicken from an open street vendor, touch it with your hands, put it into your fridge, put it in various utensils, which are not washed at boiling temperatures but with ordinary tap water. You cut it and splice it and then cook it. By then the virus is in a hundred places and you could have become a carrier. Even WHO has now diluted its own message and warns that these new mutant viruses could turn into another pandemic. H5N1 has already proven to be very dangerous to humans.
When the disease spreads to humans, it affects the respiratory tract illness, and its symptoms include Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome, similar to one caused by Covid-19. You will start with fever, cough and a sore throat. You can have abdominal pain and diarrhoea. All these symptoms are similar to Covid. There have been no tests for it in India. The government labs are now rolling out a test to see whether you have Covid or avian flu. There is no vaccine or treatment. Protect yourself. Don’t eat chicken or eggs. Close down the illegal street vendors. I have done that in my constituency.
To join the animal welfare movement contact firstname.lastname@example.org, www.peopleforanimalsindia.org