West Bengal starts 3-day culling in bird flu hit Malda (Second Lead)

December 16th, 2008 - 9:10 pm ICT by IANS  

Kolkata, Dec 16 (IANS) Culling of poultry started Tuesday in bird flu-hit areas of West Bengal’s Malda district and is likely to be over by Thursday, according to officials. This is the second outbreak of the H5N1 virus in the district.”We have started culling of poultry within a radius of three km in the affected area Tuesday. If people continue to cooperate with us, the operation will be over by Thursday,” N.K. Shit, deputy director of Malda Animal Resources Development, told IANS.

“Though people now are more aware about bird flu and are handing over the birds to us without any hassles, you never know when and where people stop cooperating and start resisting us…that may delay our culling operation,” he added.

Seventeen culling teams - wearing white protective suits, gloves and masks - have started killing and burying fowls and ducks at Narhatta and Satgheria villages under English Bazar police station in Malda, 350 km from here.

The West Bengal government said it is prepared to tackle the situation and asked people not to panic.

Animal Resources Development (ARD) Minister Anisur Rehman said: “We have taken all steps to prevent spread of bird flu. We are fully prepared.”

“Please do not panic. The administration is monitoring the situation constantly. There is also no bar on sale and consumption of poultry products outside the notified area (three km radius from the affected places). But people have to take some precautionary measures,” Rehman said.

Meanwhile, Shit said the ARD has decided to cull 16,000 chickens and ducks but the number may increase during operation.

“We have decided to cull about 16,000 poultry so far. But there are possibilities that we will find more affected birds during our three-day operation and the number may increase,” he said.

According to District Magistrate Sridhar Ghosh, no fresh outbreak of the H5N1 bird flu virus has been detected in Malda so far.

Rehman had Monday said two blood samples of dead poultry sent to the High Security Disease Diagnostic Laboratory in Bhopal had tested positive for avian flu.

The samples from Narhatta and Satgheria villages were sent to the laboratory after around 5,000 poultry died during the past week.

Sale and consumption of poultry products has been banned in the affected area.

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

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