Bird flu again hits West Bengal; Orissa bans poultry imports

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Bhubaneshwar, Dec 16: Presence of H5N1 bird flu virus is confirmed in West Bengal. In the wake, Orissa has imposed a ban on the inflow of poultry from neighbouring states an official said on Tuesday, Dec 16.

"We have banned the import of poultry birds and poultry products from neighbouring states, including West Bengal and Jharkhand," Bishnupada Sethi, director of the fisheries and animal resource development department, said.

He said the state government had collected blood samples from thousands of birds from various parts of the state but all of them tested negative for bird flu.

"We have asked the collectors of at least eight districts located in the border regions to remain alert," Sethi said, adding that "instructions have also been given to men at all check posts to examine vehicles passing through their gates to ensure no poultry enters the state".

The West Bengal government on Monday, Dec 14  said that the blood samples collected from two dead poultry birds in Malda district by the High Security Animal Disease Laboratory at Bhopal, found strains of the dreaded avian flu virus.

It was the second outbreak of bird flu in India's West Bengal state and came as several thousand birds have been slaughtered in the neighbouring state of Assam, where authorities have been battling an outbreak for several weeks.

"Tests from samples taken from the village of Lorhata, some 220 miles (354 kilometers) northeast of Calcutta, the capital of West Bengal, showed the presence of the H5N1 strain of bird flu," said Sirthar Kumar Ghosh, a local official.

Ghosh said authorities will begin slaughtering birds on Tuesday, Dec 16. Some 3,500 birds have died in Lorhata in recent days.

India has contained several previous outbreaks of the disease, including in West Bengal in January, when they slaughtered some 4 million birds.

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