Fresh bird flu scare in Nepal after lull

February 20th, 2009 - 6:14 pm ICT by IANS  

Kathmandu, Feb 20 (IANS) Less than a fortnight after Nepal’s Maoist government said the situation was under control in eastern Nepal, where the first bird flu outbreak was reported last month, fresh fears of another outbreak rose with another village in the same area close to the Indian border reporting poultry deaths.
“Bird flu has been detected in Sharanmati village in Jhapa district,” said Hari Dahal, spokesman at Nepal’s Agriculture and Cooperatives Ministry.

The village lies close to Nepal’s border with India’s West Bengal state, about 40 km southwest of the border town of Kakarbhitta, where the first outbreak was reported in mid-January.

During the week-end, 150 chickens died in Sharanmati, Dahal said, leading to the government bringing samples to Kathmandu for examination.

After the tests confirmed the presence of the H5N1 virus, the samples were sent to London’s Weybridge Laboratory for further tests.

“They have just informed us that all the seven samples tested positive,” Dahal said.

The government is sending a rapid action team to the village and setting up a control room. It is going to sound a high alert and declare emergency operations in and around the village.

The culling of poultry will start afresh in the bird flu-hit tea district and surveillance on the border entries with India tightened.

Dahal expressed fears that the ailing birds could have been smuggled from India for sale in Nepal.

“India has bird flu outbreak in West Bengal, Sikkim and Assam states,” he said. “The birds are likely to have been brought from there. They were hidden in a backyard.”

Dahal said that Kakarbhitta, where the first outbreak was reported, leading to the destruction of nearly 25,000 chickens and poultry products, had not reported any fresh signs of the disease.

The disease has not been reported in humans in Nepal, the government said.

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