Wednesday, January 23, 2008

India’s Avian Flu Outbreak Is `Serious,’ WHO Says- (new outbreaks)

Jan. 23 (Bloomberg)—An outbreak of avian flu in India’s West Bengal state is ``serious’’ and the virus has spread rapidly to many districts, the World Health Organization’s representative said.

The outbreak is the 10th in India since the H5N1 avian influenza virus was first reported to have killed poultry there in February 2006. No human cases have been recorded in India.

India has the capacity to handle the situation as the ``fundamentals of planning are sound,’’ S.J. Habayeb, the organization’s representative in the South Asian nation, said in an interview conducted over e-mail.

The disease has spread to more districts in West Bengal, taking the total number to nine, Farm Minister Sharad Pawar said in New Delhi today. ``We are trying to control the situation.’’

The government has culled 242,000 chickens since the disease was reported among poultry Jan. 15 in the eastern state, the agriculture ministry has said.

As many as 113,796 chickens have died from the virus, the ministry said in a release. Samples from six districts have tested negative. About 258 teams have been deployed for culling and surveillance operations in West Bengal, the ministry added.

`Backyard Culling’

``The main problem we are facing is culling in the backyards,’’ Anisur Rahman, West Bengal’s animal resources minister, said in a telephone interview from the state capital of Kolkata, also known as Calcutta. ``In other places, where the disease was reported, the farmers carried their poultry to a central farm in a village. Here, volunteers have to go to each house and convince farmers to do the culling.’’

The teams, working in the villages, have gone up from 400 to 650 today, Rahman said.

``Culling is going on at a rapid pace,’’ he said. ``At the same time, we are faced with a situation where poultry is being tested positive from new areas which are far-flung.’’

Bird flu story source: Bloomberg News

Posted by john T. on 01/23 at 06:31 AM
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