We do not need US help in culling: Mukherjee

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New Delhi, Jan 31: As the country's worst outbreak of bird flu spread to 13 of the West Bengal's 19 districts, External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee today said India did not need US help in culling chickens in the affected regions and help could be extended in the form of technical support.

''We do not need help in culling chickens. We need help in terms of medicine and new technology to contain the disease,'' Mr Mukherjee said on the sidelines of a scooter launch. The US government had on January 23 offered to check the availability of Tamiflu syrup for children from worldwide stocks, provide technical support for human surveillance, diagnosis, and preparedness and technical support for animal surveillance and culling.

US Ambassador to India David Mulford said the offer was for technical devices and equipment and Tamiflu. Mr Mukherjee said he had spoken to West Bengal Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee yesterday and he had been informed that a large area had been bought under control and in the next few days remaining areas will be under control.

According to experts, the people have no natural immunity to H5N1 virus since it has never infected humans on a largescale before and there is not yet a vaccine developed for human use.

The outbreaks of highly pathogenic H5N1 avian influenza that began in south-east Asia in mid-2003 and had now spread to a few parts of Europe, were the largest and most severe on record.

To date, nine Asian countries had reported outbreaks: the Republic of Korea, Viet Nam, Japan, Thailand, Cambodia, the Lao People's Democratic Republic, Indonesia, China, Malaysia and India.

Of these, Japan, the Republic of Korea, and Malaysia had controlled their outbreaks and are now considered free of the disease.

UNI

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