( dpa ) - Authorities in India's eastern state of West Bengal sounded an alert on bird flu and began culling poultry Monday after 10,000 chicken died in a village there, media reports said.
The culling of about 300,000 birds in and around Magram village in the north-western district of Birbhum had begun and villages would be quarantined and locals provided masks, the NDTV network reported.
More than 10,000 chicken died in the village over the past 10 days, but authorities were yet to confirm if the deaths were due to H5N1, the strain of bird flu that can be deadly in humans.
Samples from the affected birds were sent to a laboratory in Bhopal in central India to determine the cause of death.
"All departments concerned have been alerted," administration official Tapan Shome told the PTI news agency. "The villagers have been asked not to sell or buy chicken. They have also been asked to wear masks and cover their hands and legs while feeding birds."
West Bengal borders Bangladesh, 21 of whose 64 districts have been affected by bird flu.
No human cases of the disease have been found in either Bangladesh or India.
India, however, has seen three outbreaks of bird flu in poultry since 2006. Cases of bird flu were last detected in the north-eastern state of Manipur in 2007. All the outbreaks were brought under control.
Avian influenza cases have been reported in 60 countries over the past four years. Most of the 216 human deaths from the disease since 2003 have been reported from Asia, with the highest number of fatalities seen in Indonesia and Vietnam.