Bird flu: culling operations on in West Bengal, Assam (Lead)

December 23rd, 2008 - 7:26 pm ICT by IANS  

Kolkata/Guwahati, Dec 23 (IANS) Over 30,000 poultry have been culled in bird flu-hit Malda district of West Bengal while in Assam culling operations have been affected in some areas due to resistance from locals, officials said Tuesday.In Assam, more than 400,000 poultry have been killed so far in three weeks since the disease broke out.

West Bengal Animal Resources Development (ARD) Minister Anisur Rehman told IANS in Kolkata Tuesday: “Veterinary workers have culled over 30,000 chicken and ducks till Monday night at Narhatta and Satgheria villages in Malda and finished the mopping up operations there Monday night. Our officials inspected the affected areas Tuesday and reported the operations as successful.”

West Bengal has set a target of culling about 25,000 poultry birds in the affected areas of Malda, about 350 km from here.

Veterinary workers, wearing white protective suits, gloves and masks, started the culling Dec 16 after blood samples of dead poultry sent to the High Security Disease Diagnostic Laboratory in Bhopal tested positive for avian flu.

Culling operations continued till Sunday night. The ARD started simultaneous mopping up operations Sunday that continued till Monday night.

Assam Veterinary Commissioner S. Mewra said in Guwahati: “Culling operations are near complete in four of the seven bird flu hit districts, although in the three districts of Chirang, Barpeta, and Bongaigaon, we have not been able to finish the operations due to lack of cooperation from the locals.”

Seven Assam districts were hit by bird flu, killing hundreds of chicken and ducks about three weeks ago.

“We have culled more than 420,000 birds. There have been no reports of fresh deaths or bird flu virus in new areas since last week,” Mewra said.

But lack of cooperation from locals in the three districts was posing a serious health risk, he pointed out. “Bird flu virus could spread to the adjoining areas if locals in the three districts do not cooperate with the culling operations. There are risks of the virus spreading to humans if people resist culling.”

Meanwhile, expert central health teams are continuing door-to-door checks to ensure that the virus does not spread to humans. “So far there are no reports of the virus spreading to humans,” central health ministry official Parthajyoti Gogoi said.

The state government has so far disbursed Rs.10 million as compensation to villagers for the poultry culled.

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