12,000 birds culled in Assam after bird flu outbreak

November 29th, 2008 - 12:20 pm ICT by IANS  

Guwahati, Nov 29 (IANS) Authorities in Assam have culled some 12,000 of the estimated 60,000 birds ordered to be killed after an outbreak of the deadly bird flu virus in the region, officials said Saturday.Culling operations are on in the district of Kamrup since Friday and so far about 12,000 chickens and ducks were killed, Manoranjan Choudhury, deputy director of Assam’s veterinary department, told IANS.

The culling is being carried out in 48 villages within a five kilometre radius of village Thakurchuba in Kamrup district, about 40 km west of Assam’s main city of Guwahati.

The poultry targeted includes ducks and chickens. About 20 Rapid Response Teams comprising about seven personnel, including a veterinarian, are engaged in the operation that is expected to continue for about a week until the entire area is depopulated of the estimated 60,000 poultry, Parthajyoti Gogoi, a central health ministry official said.

The Indian health ministry Thursday confirmed the outbreak of bird flu after laboratory tests confirmed strains of the deadly H5N1 avian influenza. More than 300 birds died in the past one week in the area. Assam’s veterinary and animal husbandry department has sounded an alert and is maintaining strict surveillance on farms in the state with veterinarians carrying out checks on all poultry.

A central health ministry team is also assisting the local authorities in the culling operations. We have taken all precautionary health measures as well in the area to ensure than humans are not affected, Gogoi said.

The World Health Organization (WHO) fears that the H5N1 strain could mutate into a form easily transmitted between humans and spark a deadly pandemic. Sale and purchase of poultry in the area was banned.

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