Bird flu resurfaces in West Bengal, culling begins

March 9th, 2008 - 8:15 pm ICT by admin  


Kolkata, March 9 (IANS) West Bengal is gearing up to start culling operation after a fresh outbreak of bird flu has been confirmed in a district, almost a month after officials claimed that the avian flu had been controlled with the culling of around four million birds. Confirming the outbreak in Murshidabad district, West Bengal Animal Resource Development (ARD) Minister Anisur Rahman told IANS Sunday: “We are trying to start culling operation either in the evening itself or latest by Monday morning.”

“We received confirmation Saturday of bird flu (the deadly H5N1 strain) in two villages of Murshidabad district. The two villages are Nayamukundapur in Raghunathgunj Block II and Dohapara village in Murshidabad-Jiagunj block,” Murshidabad district magistrate Subir Bhadra told IANS earlier.

The two areas, where hundreds of poultry birds died in the past weeks, are about 300 km away from here.

“A few hundred birds died in the two areas. The number has not exceeded 1,000. We are probing the reasons, but it seems villagers had hidden ducks and chickens during the previous culling operation,” Rahman said.

“The virus could have been transmitted though smuggling of poultry birds from bordering Bangladesh, which is hit by avian flu,” he added.

“The areas from where the reports came are not new areas,” he said.

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

The authorities in Murshidabad Sunday blared through loudspeakers a warning to the villagers to stay away from backyard poultry and cooperate with culling teams.

Bhadra earlier said the samples that were recently sent to the National Animal Research Laboratory in Bhopal from the two villages showed the birds were infected.

He said about 60 rapid response teams would start culling chickens and ducks in the affected areas soon.

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

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

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