Friday, February 01, 2008

Health workers quarantined in Indian bird flu state

KOLKATA (AFP) — A health worker in an Indian state was put in isolation and hundreds of others who had slaughtered chickens to stem an outbreak of bird flu were being monitored, an official said Friday.

Thousands of people were pressed into culling operations in West Bengal after the presence of the deadly H5N1 strain of bird flu was confirmed last month. The virus has now been found in 13 of the eastern state’s 19 districts.

“More than 500 health workers who were involved in culling have been quarantined as a precautionary measure,” Anisur Rahaman, West Bengal animal resources minister, told AFP.

“If anyone has a cold or fever we are sending his blood sample for tests.”

Rahaman said all workers involved in culling would be quarantined for at least a week before being sent home, as slaughtering operations drew to a close with some 2.7 million chickens killed.

One health worker was being kept in isolation after the 28-year-old reported having a fever and was admitted to hospital Thursday night, Rahaman said, adding that the state was awaiting the results of his laboratory tests.

No human cases of bird flu have been reported in the state of 80 million so far, but officials have repeatedly expressed concern that the disease could spread to villagers living in close proximity with the affected poultry.

Bird flu panic spread to other Indian states, as neighbouring Assam was ordered to cull poultry in villages bordering West Bengal. State officials there estimated 80,000 chickens would need to be killed.

Haryana state, bordering capital New Delhi, has sent samples from dead birds for testing, an Indian official told the Hindustan Times in a report published Friday, after hundreds of chickens died there this week.

Bird flu story source: AFP

Posted by john T. on 02/01 at 08:57 AM
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