Bird flu in Darjeeling, culling ordered (Lead)

January 3rd, 2009 - 9:08 pm ICT by IANS  

Siliguri (West Bengal), Jan 3 (IANS) Bird flu has been detected in West Bengal’s Darjeeling district, prompting the administration Saturday to order culling of 60,000 poultry over three days starting Sunday. Alarmed at the death of 80 poultry at Pubang in Takhdra of Darjeeling subdivision and 67 poultry at Matigara in Siliguri subdivision within a week, the district administration sent the samples to the High Security Disease Diagnostic Laboratory at Bhopal.

“One of the samples has tested positive for avian flu,” the state’s Animal Resources Development Minister Anisur Rehman told IANS over phone.

“We have asked the district administration to take all measures. Culling will start Sunday,” Rehman said.

The development comes 18 days after bird flu struck Malda district in the state.

In Siliguri, Darjeeling district magistrate Surendra Gupta said: “60,000 poultry will be culled over three days from Monday, in both the hills and plains over a five km radius from the epicentre.”

The culling operations will also be conducted at Phulbari of Jalpaiguri district which comes under the radius zone.

Twenty culling teams - 16 in Darjeeling district and 12 in neighbouring Jalpaiguri - comprising altogether 6,000 members, have been set up.

Every household whose poultry is culled would be given Rs.500, Gupta said.

“We will monitor the situation. If required, the culling target will be increased and period extended,” he said.

Restrictions on sale and consumption of poultry have been enforced in parts of Siliguri and Darjeeling sub-divisions besides Phulbari.

Early last year, bird flu had hit Darjeeling district twice, with Bijonbari, Kurseong and Pumding being the affected areas.

On Dec 15 last year, bird flu had hit Malda, and 30,000 poultry were culled.

In January last year, over 200,000 poultry were culled in several West Bengal districts.

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