Culling continues in Bengal for second day today

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Kolkata, Jan 16 (UNI) Culling continued in the Bird Flu-hit West Bengal for the second day today as the operation was extended to another district with fresh reports of chicken deaths pouring in from various areas.

Animal Husbandry Minister Anisur Rahman said culling was carried out in Murshidabad district besides in Birbhum and South Dinajpur, where the operation started yesterday.

" Altogether 37,500 chickens have been killed so far, but the total number of birds to be culled may well surpass our earlier target of 400,000, " he said.

Equipped with special gears, health workers fanned out in the affected areas to carry out with the culling within a radius of three to five km area of the affected areas.

The Minister informed that mass death of chickens had been reported also from Bardhaman, South Twentyfour Parganas and Nadia districts though there was no symptom of the avian flu in the dead birds.

However, the blood sample of the chickens had been sent to the High Security Animal Disease Laboratory in Bhopal to determine the disease.

Admitting that there was initial delay in starting the culling operation, Mr Rahman said it was because of the reluctance of the local people to hand over their birds to the authorities.

" However, health workers are convincing them about the danger while assuring the people of the compensation to be given by the Government, " he said.

The Minister also denied delay in reporting the incidence of Bird Flu to the Centre.

The Government had already put a ban on the sale of chickens, ducks and eggs in the affected areas besides sealing the Bangaldesh border to prevent movement of birds.

While the state wildlife authorities had been alerted against any unusual death of birds, civic authorities were conducting inspection of markets to check the health of birds to be sold.

The demand for chicken took a nosedive, registering a sharp drop in the price in the state, including Kolkata.

The Airlines and Railway authorities had also dropped chicken and egg items from the menu list for passengers.

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