Culling on in West Bengal’s bird flu-hit Malda (Lead)

December 17th, 2008 - 10:03 pm ICT by IANS  

Kolkata, Dec 17 (IANS) Full-fledged culling operations were going on in West Bengal’s bird flu-hit Malda district, a minister said Wednesday, adding precautionary measures were being taken to stop further spread of the deadly H5N1 virus in surrounding areas.”So far the culling operations are going on at Narhatta and Satgheria villages under the English Bazar police station in Malda without any resistance from the people. Farmers are willingly handing over their chickens and ducks to the cullers,” Anisur Rehman, state animal resources development (ARD) department minister, told IANS.

Rehman said: “An additional team of five cullers have been sent to the affected areas on Wednesday, along with the seventeen teams of 85 men, who are working there since Tuesday. Our aim is to cull the maximum number of birds by Wednesday night, so that we can wrap up the operation by Thursday.”

He said besides carrying out the culling operations, the officials were also taking all possible precautionary measures to stop further spread of the H5N1 avian flu virus outside the affected area.

“Already we have barred transportation of poultry products across West Bengal-Assam border since the avian flu has hit Assam too. Sale and consumption of poultry products within the notified area (three km radius from the affected place) have been banned.

“Our officers are talking to people from time-to-time to make them aware of the effects of avian flu.

“Strict vigilance is being kept across the district for any fresh outbreak of the disease as well as to see if people are abiding by the precautionary measures recommended by the ARD,” the minister said.

At least 250 birds were culled by Wednesday noon. “The culling operations will be carried on till late night. Only Thursday morning we will be able to tell the exact number of poultry culled Wednesday,” ARD principal secretary Dilip Chakraborty told IANS.

The ARD officials have decided to cull 16,000 chickens and ducks in all. Farmers were being given a compensation of Rs.20-50 per poultry depending on its age.

A two-day mopping up operation will begin after the culling operations were over.

Seventeen culling teams with a total of 85 workers - wearing white protective suits, gloves and masks - Tuesday started killing and burying chickens and ducks at Narhatta and Satgheria villages in Malda, 350 km from here.

In January, over 200,000 birds were culled when avian flu was detected in several districts. An outbreak of bird flu had been detected in Malda in March and more than 50,000 birds were culled.

This is the second outbreak in the district of the dreaded disease caused by the H5N1 virus.

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