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Year : 2010  |  Volume : 54  |  Issue : 4  |  Page : 216-218  

A study on knowledge and practice related to bird flu in a rural community of Hooghly District of West Bengal

1 Assistant Professor, Department of Public Health Administration, All India Institute of Hygiene & Public Health, Kolkata, India
2 Post Graduate Trainee (Diploma in Public Health), Department of Public Health Administration, All India Institute of Hygiene & Public Health, Kolkata, India
3 Professor & Head, Department of Public Health Administration, All India Institute of Hygiene & Public Health, Kolkata, India

Date of Web Publication3-Mar-2011

Correspondence Address:
Shibani Datta
Assistant Professor, Department of Public Health Administration, All India Institute of Hygiene & Public Health, Kolkata
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/0019-557X.77265

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For last few years in the early spring bird flu poses a threat to India. The causative agent H5N1 virus is also getting robust day by day acquiring an ability to cross the species barrier. It is now known as (H5N1) which is emerging as killer virus to man. Although human casualty is yet to be recorded from India, but the threat is not over. The present study had been undertaken in the village of Hakimpur of Singur Block of District Hooghly, West Bengal, with a population 862 of 215 families. The objective of the study was to assess the knowledge of the study population regarding bird flu and to study their practice regarding poultry maintenance. The head of the family from each family was interviewed. A house to house survey in the census method on a pre-designed, pre-tested, semi-structured schedule was done. Information regarding socio-demographic profile, poultry keeping, correct knowledge about bird flu, mode of transmission, culling, etc was recorded. The data were collected and analyzed by relevant statistical methods. The results showed that 46% respondents knew what bird flu is, 62.8% knew the mode of transmission, and 35.3% knew the procedure of culling. Out of literates about 53% and out of the illiterates only 0.93% were aware of the transmission of the virus through body fluids. The predominant source of information was mass media. 57.14% of the families rearing poultry, kept the birds in shed, 40.48% in cage, and 2.38% in living room.

Keywords: Bird Flu, Culling, H5N1, Knowledge, Literacy Status, Mass Media

How to cite this article:
Datta S, Sen S, Sengupta B. A study on knowledge and practice related to bird flu in a rural community of Hooghly District of West Bengal. Indian J Public Health 2010;54:216-8

How to cite this URL:
Datta S, Sen S, Sengupta B. A study on knowledge and practice related to bird flu in a rural community of Hooghly District of West Bengal. Indian J Public Health [serial online] 2010 [cited 2023 Feb 1];54:216-8. Available from:

Influenza A virus subtype H5N1, also known as "bird flu" (H5N1) or simply H5N1 is a subtype of the influenza A virus which can cause illness in humans and many other animal species. [1] The first case of bird flu in India has been reported from the Nandurbar Slaughter House in the western state of Maharashtra on 18 February 2006. No human case has been found in India till date. [1] H5N1 preferentially binds to a type of galactose receptors that populate the avian respiratory tract from the nose to the lungs, but these receptors are virtually absent in humans, occurring only in and around the alveoli. Thus, the virus is not easily expelled by coughing and sneezing in human. [2],[3] Migrating waterfowl (wild ducks, geese and swans) carry H5N1, often without becoming sick. [4],[5] and researchers reported that the H5N1 bird flu virus can also pass through the placenta to infect the fetus. [6]

Bird flu was confirmed in West Bengal on 16 January 2008.The main affected districts were Murshidabad, Birbhum (Rampurhat and Nalhati), South Dinajpur (Balurghat), Nadia, Burdwan, Bankura, Koochbihar, Darjeeling, and Hooghly. No human case has occurred in West Bengal till date. In Hooghly, the avian influenza outbreak occurred in Block Chanditala-II and Hutpur village in the year 2008. [7] The present study was conducted in Hakimpur which is adjacent to the above-mentioned village. Although there was no history of the occurrence of avian influenza in this village, but there was every possibility of its occurrence in immediate future. Moreover, the village had a large number of poultry keeper families who were most likely to become infected with bird flu. Thus, proper knowledge of bird flu and poultry rearing practice was very necessary for them. Keeping this in our mind this particular village was selected to see whether the villagers had adequate knowledge to combat avian flu outbreak in near future.

This community-based cross-sectional study was undertaken in December 2009 in the village named Hakimpur, Block Singur, District Hooghly of West Bengal. One of the investigators along with other health staff of Rural Health Unit, Singur, collected the data by the census method by house to house survey from the head of the families of all the 215 families of the particular village and recorded in a predesigned and pretested schedule. Information regarding socio-demographic profile, poultry keeping practices, correct knowledge about bird flu, mode of transmission, culling, etc were recorded. It was asked "What is Bird Flu?" The expected correct answer was "Bird Flu is a type of Flu or Influenza like common cold." The next questions were about the mode of transmission (bird to man, bird to bird, bird to bird and man, man to bird) and any one of the italicized responses was marked correct. Regarding the knowledge about effect of bird flu (whether it kills bird, kills man, kills both bird and man, usually man get cured, incurable to man) and knowledge about culling procedure (birds burnt, neck broken without bleeding, cut through neck, affected birds segregated), any one of the italicized responses was marked correct. The data were analyzed by applying appropriate statistical methods.

The socio-demographic profiles of the 215 families showed that a majority were primarily dependent on agriculture (36.27%). 54.52% of the population were males in the village with the sex ratio of 834 females/1000 males. According to Prasad's Scale [8] (updated as per Index for March 2 nd 2003) 28.85% families were in the group of Rs. 330-659 per capita per month and they belong to the Social Class IV and 13.95% of the families were earning < Rs.330 per capita per month, i.e. Social Class V. All the families were Bengali speaking Hindus. 9.4% and 16.37% were illiterates among males and females respectively and 43.44% of population studied or were studying in middle school. 74% families were nuclear, 50.7% families resided in pucca houses, and 75.34% families possess latrine at their houses. Almost all of the families dispose their refuse by the dumping method at a specified place at the neighborhood. 19.53% families kept poultry at their house. 57.14% kept the birds in the shed, 40.48% in cage, and 2.38% in living room. Excreta disposal was only by cleaning with water. Only 14.28% families said that children of their family played intimately with the poultry birds. There was no veterinary clinic in the village.

The study showed that 46% of the study population had the correct knowledge of bird flu [Table 1]. Olugbenga Bello et al.[9] in a study done at Nigeria showed that 49.1% of the study subjects had the knowledge of avian flu. A similar type of study conducted by UNICEF in Moldova [10] showed that 98% of the respondents knew about the disease which is quite higher than the present study. Although the respondents had several sources of knowledge, the predominant source appeared to be TV and radio. This finding corroborates with the findings of the study done in Moldova [9] where the most important source of information was mass media (84.8%). Respondents also got the knowledge from friends, neighbors, or relatives.

The different aspects of the knowledge of bird flu and the procedure of culling are shown in [Table 1]. [Table 2] shows the correct knowledge of bird flu with respect to the family type, housing type, and poultry rearing practice. The knowledge of transmission by infected body fluids among literate respondents were significantly high than the illiterate respondents (χ2 = 39.873, Yates corrected with P<0.0001).
Table 1: Correct knowledge according to literacy status of respondents of the families of Hakimpur (n=215)

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Table 2: Correct knowledge according to family type, housing, poultry rearing status of the respondents of the families of Hakimpur (n=215)

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Among the respondents who knew about the mode of transmission, 24.62% knew it was transmitted by saliva, 23.35% by nasal secretion, 31.47% by excreta and 20.82% by blood. The present study showed that 62.8% of the study population knew about the mode of transmission, which was similar to the study done in Japan. [11]

About 35% had the knowledge that the virus affected birds only, 48% both bird and man, about 0.5% only man and 0.5% other animals. 45% said that culling was beneficial at the time of outbreak, about 1% had an idea that the poultry products could be consumed, and 54% did not have any idea. About 90% of the villagers were anxious about impending outbreak, either due to loss of poultry (22%), monetary reasons (21%), and loss of human lives (58%). 20.46% believed that isolation of diseased birds would help to arrest the progress of an impending outbreak.

UNICEF of India conducted a KAP Study in Badwani and Indore district of Madhya Pradesh and Thane district of Maharashtra. According to the report, the local knowledge regarding avian flu was vague and the farmers rarely contacted the Animal Husbandry Department in the veterinary hospitals on poultry issues, as travel and treatment for fowl were considered expensive. [12]

They said village had 19.53% poultry keepers. Awareness Camp was never been arranged in the village, and as such, the knowledge of bird flu was found to be poor in the community. Health awareness camps in the community are necessary to uplift the knowledge, so that any future outbreak may be combated.

We extend our sincere thanks to all the study participants and our colleagues for cooperating with us during the study period.

   References Top

1.International Committee on Taxonomy of Viruses Influenzavirus A. 2002;46.0.1.   Back to cited text no. 1
2.Shinya K, Ebina M, Yamada S, Ono M, Kasai N, Kawaoka Y. Avian flu: Influenza virus receptors in the human airway. Nature 2006;440:435-6.  Back to cited text no. 2
3.Van Riel D, Munster VJ, de Wit E, Rimmelzwaan GF, Fouchier RA, Osterhaus AD, Kuiken T. H5N1 virus attachment to lower respiratory tract. Science 2006;312:399.  Back to cited text no. 3
4.Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations. Wild birds and Avian Influenza. Available from: http://www.agr.state.i//us/news/special/birdflu [last accessed on 2010 Mar 12].  Back to cited text no. 4
5.Brstilo M. "Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza in Croatia Follow-up report 2006; 4.,HTM#Sec14 accessed on 20-02-2010   Back to cited text no. 5
6.H5N1 Transmission Update. Available from: [last accessed on 2010 Mar 6].  Back to cited text no. 6
7.GOI Ministry of Agriculture, Department of Animal Husbandry, Dairying and Fisheries. Confirmation of Avian Influenza in Birbhum, Murshidabad and Hooghly Districts of West Bengal. 30 th Jan 2008. Available from: spreads in West Bengal [last accessed on 2011 Jan 9].  Back to cited text no. 7
8.Hiremath DA, Hiremath LD. Essentials of Community Medicine- A practical Approach. New Delhi: Jaypee Bros; 2004.  Back to cited text no. 8
9.Olubenga- Bello AJ, Bamidele Jo, Oladele EA,Ifeka JO. "A KAP Study of Avian Flu in Nigeria" Niger Postgrad Med J. 2009 Mem, 16(1):8-13  Back to cited text no. 9
10.UNICEF. Terms of reference for a KAP Study to inform the National Avian Flu prevention and Containment Communication Strategy. Aug 2007. Available from: 2OAI-21Aug07-pdf [last accessed on 2011 Jan 7].  Back to cited text no. 10
11.UNICEF, WHO, FAO. A KAP Study regarding Poultry and other practices pertaining to Avian Influenza. 2008. Available from: [last accessed on2011 Jan 7].  Back to cited text no. 11
12.UNICEF. Knowledge Attitude Practices Study on Backyard Poultry Handlers: Key Findings. 2007. [last accessed on 2011 Jan 9].  Back to cited text no. 12


  [Table 1], [Table 2]

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