Kolkata, Jan 22: Amid the fear of a wider prevalence, the deadly bird flu continued to rage in seven districts of West Bengal as the authorities set a new culling target of 2.1 million chickens to contain the disease. Yesterday the H5N1 strain of bird flu was found among poultry in Malda district, putting it on the map of affected areas. Altogether 25 blocks and four municipalities of six other districts-- Birbhum, South Dinajpur, Murshidabad, Nadia, Bardhaman and Bankura had already been hit. The affected districts have a total population of at least 24 million.
Meanwhile, Animal Resources Development(ARD) Secretary Pradip Kumar, who talked to the State Health Department officials here during the day, told reporters that the Centre had sought assistance from eight other states to supplement the effort of the West Bengal Government in fighting the disease. '' Altogether 2.1 million chickens would have to be culled in the next seven days to arrest the spread of the disease. So far the figure is 400,000,'' he said.
Yesterday, State Animal Husbandry Minister Anisur Rahman said 300,000 birds would have to be culled everyday to meet the target.
A 100 member team of experts from Assam joined the state officials here to fight against the disease. Official sources said the Orissa government had also offered its help in the effort.