West Bengal’s Malda hit by bird flu, culling begins (Lead)

December 16th, 2008 - 6:49 pm ICT by IANS  

Kolkata, Dec 16 (IANS) West Bengal Tuesday began culling poultry in Malda district where bird flu has reappeared - the second time this year - and asked people not to panic. About 35,000 poultry in Malda, 350 km from here, have been affected with the H5N1 bird flu virus.

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

Rehman appealed to the people not to panic.

“Please don’t panic. The administration is monitoring the situation constantly. There is also no bar on sale and consumption of poultry products outside the notified area (3 km radius from the affected places). But people have to take some precautionary measures,” Rehman said.

Malda District Magistrate Sridhar Ghosh told IANS, “We have started mopping and culling of poultry within a radius of three km from the affected district.”

“Due to fog and bad weather conditions, our operations were a bit delayed. About 15,000 hens and ducks will be culled in total,” Ghosh said.

Rehman earlier confirmed that two blood samples of dead poultry sent to the High Security Disease Diagnostic Laboratory at Bhopal tested positive for avian flu.

The samples were from Narhatta and Satgheria villages under English Bazar police station in Malda.

The samples were sent to the laboratory after around 5,000 poultry died in Narhatta village during the past one week.

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

Over 200,000 birds were culled when avian flu was detected in several north and south Bengal districts in January this year.

An outbreak of bird flu in poultry was also detected in Malda in March, resulting in the culling of more than 50,000 birds then.

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