Bengal bird flu: Culling to be completed Wednesday

March 11th, 2008 - 2:14 pm ICT by admin  

Kolkata, March 11 (IANS) Culling to slaughter 50,000 poultry birds in West Bengal’s bird flu-affected Murshidabad district is scheduled to end by Wednesday. No fresh spread of the outbreak was was reported from anywhere in the state Tuesday morning. “We could cull around 5,000 birds Monday on the first day of the operation, but we hope to pace up and finish the job by Wednesday,” Murshidabad District Magistrate Subir Bhadra told IANS over phone Tuesday.

“Since this is backyard poultry, the team workers had to wait often for the birds to return in the evening after they were released in the daytime by the keepers. The work continued till late night and will continue the whole of Tuesday night as well,” he said.

West Bengal Monday resumed culling operations in Murshidabad district where the deadly H5N1 virus resurfaced nearly a month after the government claimed avian flu had been contained in the state.

“Around 65 rapid response teams, each comprising three to four personnel, are in the villages to complete the (culling) work,” Bhadra said.

Tests at Bhopal’s High Security Animal Disease Laboratory (HSADL) have confirmed the presence of bird flu virus in samples from Nayamukundapur in Raghunathgunj block II and Dohapara village in Murshidabad-Jiagunj block of the district.

Nearly 1,000 birds have died in these two areas in the past 10 days. West Bengal Animal Resource Minister Anisur Rahman had earlier said that the new cases might be due to villagers having hidden ducks and chickens during the previous culling operation.

“The virus could have been transmitted through smuggling of poultry birds from bordering Bangladesh, which is hit by avian flu again. The areas from where the reports came are not new areas,” he said.

The last time, the authorities had not been able to follow all the guidelines that should be followed after a bird flu outbreak, Rahman admitted. As a result, there may be sporadic outbreaks in the next few years, he said.

“This happens to be true for countries like China, Germany and Hong Kong which failed to contain the virus at one go. These countries are also struggling with the virus for the past four-five years. Actually, it is tough to implement the guideline in entirety,” he said.

The district authorities of Nadia and Birbhum have said that tests after poultry deaths recently in the two districts had shown that chickens had died of wild cat attacks and worms over the past few days and not bird flu.

According to Rahman, about four million birds were culled by mid-February since the bird flu outbreak was confirmed Jan 15.

In February, the authorities had hoped that India’s worst bird flu crisis was over. The ban on sale and consumption of poultry products was also lifted from 13 of West Bengal’s 19 districts where the bird flu had raged.

The state government had then allayed fears of human infection, after the blood samples of the 19 people sent for testing were found negative.

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