Mass culling of chickens begin to contain avian flu

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Kolkata, Jan 16 (UNI) Amid a satewide alert against Avian Flu, the mass slaughter of chickens began in two West Bengal districts today with more reports of poultry death trickling from other aeas.

"The culling in the affected blocks of Birbhum and South Dinajpur districts have begun. We have ordered the operation to be extended also to Murshidabad district which reported death of many chickens," Animal Husbandry Minister Anisur Rahman said.

A team of Union Health Ministry was expected to arrive here tonight to supervise the culling operation in the affected areas, the Minister said.

The culling was being carried out by 55 rapid response teams of health employees in a radius of three to five km of the affected backyard poultries and one state-run farm. The dead birds were being burried in pits, the Minister said.

More than 400,000 chickens would have to be killed in the three districts as a measure to prevent.

As a preventive measure against spread of the disease, the Government had also banned sale of chickens and poultry products for three months in the affected areas.

The measure was taken after the Centre announced outbreak of Bird Flu in certain blocks of Birbhum and South Dinajpur districts.

The Centre's announcement was based on the reports of the Institute of Virology of Pune and Bhopal's High Security Animal Diseases Laboratory confirming that the poultry deaths in those two districts were caused by the H5N1 virus.

A strict vigil was being maintained along the international border with Bangladesh, where Bird Flu broke out last year, so that there was no movemement of chickens or any other birds.

More than 36,000 chickens died of bird flu over the past few weeks at Margram village in Birbhum district and at Balurghat.

Nadia District Magistrate Om kar Singh Meena said 300 chickens had been afflicted at Kanainagar village under Tehatta police station and some had already died and thrown into the river.

District health officials had gone to the area to collect samples.

Some chickehs had also been affected in Hooghly district and their blood sample had been sent to Belgatchia.

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