Bird flu hits Nepal

January 16th, 2009 - 4:42 pm ICT by IANS  

Kathmandu, Jan 16 (IANS) Unscathed by the past bird flu epidemics that had swept its giant neighbours India and China, Nepal has finally reported the first outbreak of the deadly poultry disease, declaring an eastern town adjoining the Indian border quarantined area.Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal Prachanda Friday called an emergency meeting of his cabinet to discuss the epidemic and other crises.

At the end of the meeting, Information and Communications Minister Krishna Bahadur Mahara, who is also the government spokesman, told the media that the first outbreak of the disease caused by the Avian Influenza Virus has been detected in the border town of Kakarbhitta in eastern Jhapa district.

The government has ordered all poultry in the town as well as other areas within 3 km of it to be culled.

Grim-faced poultry farmers watched by the police Friday began the destruction process.

The cabinet decision came after six of the seven poultry samples from Kakarbhitta tested positive for bird flu.

To keep the disease from spreading, the government has also ordered the district administration not to allow the transportation of poultry within 10 km of the quarantined town.

Even after outbreaks were reported in India, smuggling of poultry and eggs across the open border had continued.

The contamination is likely to have come from India.

India’s West Bengal state would be the most affected if a full-scale epidemic breaks out in Jhapa.

Since 1997, the infection has also been reported in humans, especially people who have regular contact with infected birds.

Symptoms of avian influenza in humans range from fever, cough, sore throat, and muscle aches to eye infections, pneumonia, and other severe and life-threatening complications.

According to the World Health Organisation, nearly 250 people have been killed due to bird flu since 2003.

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