Bird flu alarm in Kolkata ; Two more districts fall prey

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Kolkata, Jan 23 (UNI) Spreading further to afflict half the state, bird flu invaded two more West Bengal districts ringing an alarm in Kolkata today even as authorities continued to grapple with the aggressive disease.

State Animal Husbandry Minister Anisur Rahman said the disease was detected in one block each in Cooch Behar and Hooghly districts after blood samples of chickens from the area proved positive of H5N1 virus.

With this, altogether 34 blocks in nine out of the state's 18 districts have been affected by Avian flu.

'' Surveillance has been intensified in Kolkata following outbreak of Bird flu in Hooghly district, which is close to the city, '' Mr Rahman told UNI.

The disease was already raging in Birbhum, Bankura, South Dinajpur, Malda, Murshidabad, Bardhaman and Nadia.

Mr Rahman said the number of chickens to be culled in the state was likely to surpass 2.1 million, as set earlier, because of the new areas being affected.

About 600,000 birds had so far been culled in the state to contain the fast spreading disease.

Meanwhile, around 400-500 chickens had died of unnatural causes during the past one week at a poultry farm at Maniram village in the Naxalbari area under Siliguri subdivision.

Deputy Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr Prashant Rudra said no official confirmation had yet been received on whether the birds were hit by Avian Influenza.

An employee of the poultry farm fell ill and was admitted to the isolated ward of the Naxalbari hospital. His blood samples had been sent to the North Bengal Medical College for test.

The health officer said the doctors had not yet been able to ascertain whether the person was afflicted with the H5N1 virus, adding the patient was responding well to the medication being given to him and recuperating.

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