by Sajid Raina
SRINAGAR: In a groundbreaking development, Dr Nadeem Shabir, an Assistant Professor at the Division of Animal Biotechnology, Faculty of Veterinary Sciences and Animal Husbandry, Sher-e-Kashmir University of Agricultural Sciences and Technology of Kashmir (SKUAST-K), has secured a grant of Rs 1.4 crore from the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR). This significant grant, spanning three years from February 2024, has been earmarked for a pioneering research project focused on understanding the transmission patterns of Avian Influenza in Jammu and Kashmir.
The primary objective of the project, led by Shabir, is to map the transmission patterns of Avian Influenza in the region, specifically tracking the virus’s journey from migratory birds to domestic poultry and potentially to poultry handlers. Avian Influenza, commonly known as bird flu, poses a substantial threat to both wild birds and domestic poultry, with concerns about possible zoonotic transmission to humans.
The research project adopts a comprehensive One-health approach, aiming to study the intricate dynamics of Avian Influenza transmission in Jammu and Kashmir. Dr Shabir will collaborate with influenza experts, including Dr Parvaiz Koul, Director of the Sher-i-Kashmir Institute of Medical Sciences (SKIMS), and Dr Varsha Potdar, Head of the Influenza Group at the National Institute of Virology, Pune.
The project will investigate how the virus spreads from migratory birds to domestic poultry and potentially to humans. By gaining insights into these transmission patterns, the research team hopes to develop effective strategies to mitigate the risk of outbreaks and protect both animal and human health.
Beyond its impact on public health, the research project also holds ecological significance for Jammu and Kashmir. The region, known for its diverse wildlife, including numerous migratory bird species, will benefit from understanding the transmission dynamics of Avian Influenza. This knowledge not only aims to safeguard domestic poultry but also contributes to the conservation of wild bird populations and the overall ecological balance of the area.
Prof Nazir Ahmad Ganai, Vice Chancellor of SKUAST-K, emphasised the critical importance of the project, stating that Avian Influenza poses a significant threat to both animal and human health. The comprehensive survey conducted through this project aims to delve into the intricacies of the virus dynamics in both domestic and wild bird populations of Jammu and Kashmir, providing invaluable data for the development of robust prevention and control strategies.
Expressing excitement about SKUAST-K’s milestone achievement, Prof Ganai highlighted the significance of securing the university’s first-ever one-health grant. This achievement marks a new era of collaborative, multi-sectoral, and trans-disciplinary research in the region.
In alignment with this initiative, SKUAST-K has reaffirmed its dedication to the One Health approach, integrating human, animal, and environmental health considerations. This commitment is underscored by the issuance of the inaugural One-Health Declaration by the university. Additionally, SKUAST-K has further solidified its leadership in this domain by announcing the establishment of the School of One Health, a monumental accomplishment endorsed during the 43rd Academic Council Meeting.
The research project represents a collaborative effort to address a pressing public health issue and safeguard the ecological integrity of Jammu and Kashmir. Through rigorous scientific inquiry and collaborative partnerships, Dr Shabir and his team aim to make meaningful contributions to our understanding of Avian Influenza transmission and pave the way for effective prevention and control measures in the region.