Birdflu outbreak in Agartala due to virulent H5 strain

New Delhi, Feb 20 (PTI) The birdflu outbreak inAgartala in Tripura has been caused by the highly virulent H5strain which if transmitted to humans can be deadly.

The samples from Government Duck Farm, R K Nagar,Agartala, were sent to High Security Animal Disease Laboratory(HSADL), Bhopal and a government laboratory in Kolkata fortesting.

The tests confirmed that the samples are positive forH5 strain of Avian Influenza, a senior Health Ministryofficial said.

According to experts, the H5 strain of bird flu is ahighly virulent one and people''s immune systems do not yethave any ability to recognise it, leaving humans extremelyvulnerable to it.

Luckily, H5N1 is not adapted to human hosts and doesnot have the genes that would allow it to be passed easilyfrom person to person. But evolution may change that.

The H5 and N1 represent forms of viral proteins thathuman bodies use to recognise and attack the virus. Some flustrains, such as H1N1, are relatively common in humans andmany people''s immune systems can recognise and attack thesestrains.

At least 3,000 poultry, including chickens and ducks,have been culled in Tripura to control further spread ofbirdflu from a government duck farm in Agartala.

The administration has also banned sale of any poultryin and around R K Nagar farm, six kms from the capital town.

Avian Influenza was first reported from Kamalpur, asub-division in Dhalai district bordering Moulavi Bazardistrict of neighbouring Bangladesh in April 2008.

The Centre has stepped in to combat the problem anddirected the state to cull the entire poultry within a radiusof three km of the focus of infection.

The state government has been asked to furnish a dailyreport on the control and containment operations to theDepartment of Animal Husbandry, Dairying and Fisheries in theMinistry of Agriculture.

The Centre has advised the state to ban movement ofpoultry and its products in the infected area, close poultryand egg markets and shops within a radius of 10 kms from theinfected site, ban movement of farm personnel, restrict accessto wild and stray birds and restrict access to the infectedpremises.

On compensation for loss of poultry on account ofculling and destruction of birds, the Union government hastold the state that it would be shared between the two on a50:50 basis.

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