West Bengal completes culling of 28,000 birds

March 14th, 2008 - 10:50 pm ICT by admin  

Kolkata, March 14 (IANS) About 28,000 poultry birds have been culled in West Bengal’s avian flu-affected Murshidabad district and the propcess is now complete, an official said Friday. “We have completed culling operations at Nayamukundapur in Raghunathgunj block II and Dohapara villages of the district - where the virus resurfaced recently - on Thursday morning,” said Murshidabad District Magistrate Subir Bhadra.

” We have culled about 28,000 poultry birds since we began the operations. The target was initially set at 50,000, taking the figure from the 2005 bird census. But we later found that many of the birds had already been culled during the initial outbreak while many had natural deaths,” Bhadra said.

“We have not received reports of any further outbreak of the disease in the district.” he added.

“Culling at these two places has been completed and mopping up operations and disinfection of the area is on. We hope to complete that soon,” the official said.

” A ban on buying and selling of poultry birds has been imposed in these two places until further notice,” Bhadra said.

West Bengal on 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, completed the culling mostly working during night,” the official said.

“Since this is backyard poultry, the team workers had often to wait for the birds to return home in the evening after they were released in the daytime by the keepers,” the official added.

West Bengal Animal Resource Minister Anisur Rahman 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 were not able to follow all guidelines that should have been followed after a bird flu outbreak, Rahman admitted. As a result, there may be sporadic outbreaks in the next few years, he said.

In February, the authorities 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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