2.1 million chickens to be culled in next few days

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Kolkata, Jan 22 (UNI) With a targetted 2.1 million chickens to be culled in the next few days, technical teams from eight states would be brought in West Bengal as the dreaded Avian flu continued to rage in seven districts today.

Union Animal Husbandry Department Secretary Pradip Kumar said here that technical teams from eight states, including Maharashtra, Punjab, Tamil Nadu, Haryana, Orissa and Assam, would monitor the culling operation in which about 300,000 birds would have to be killed everyday.

Assuring that there was no cause to panic, Mr Kumar said so far there had been no report of the disease infecting human beings.

Meanwhile, Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee told reporters that he had apprised Prime Minister Manmohan Singh of the Bird Flu situation in the state when the latter telephoned him last night.

" I have been in regular touch with Union Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar. We have to give stress on culling to contain the incidence, " he said.

The Chief Minister said though the situation in Birbhum and Bankura districts came under control to some extent, it remained a cause for concern in Birbhum, where the disease first broke out.

Animal Husbandry Minister Anisur Rahman said altogether 400,000 chieckens had so far been culled in 31 blocks and four municipalities of the seven affected districts.

Yesterday the H5N1 strain of bird flu was found among poultry in Malda district putting it on the map of the affected areas.

The affected districts have a total population of at least 24 million.

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