Fresh cases of bird flu reported in India's West Bengal
( dpa )- Fresh cases of bird flu have been reported in India's eastern West Bengal state about a month after officials said an earlier outbreak had been controlled by culling more than 4 million birds, news reports said Sunday.
"We received confirmation Saturday of bird flu in two villages of Murshidabad district," the district's top official Subir Bhadra was quoted as saying by IANS news agency.
The two areas are located about 300 kilometres north-west of state capital Kolkata . More than 900 poultry birds reportedly died in these two villages over the past week.
Bhadra said samples from dead birds sent to the state-run National Animal Research Laboratory in the central Indian city of Bhopal had tested positive for the deadly H5N1 strain of the virus.
West Bengal Animal Resource Development Minister Anisur Rahman said the culling would start on Sunday.
An earlier outbreak of bird flu in West Bengal, confirmed on January 15, had been described as the worst outbreak in India so far by the World Health Organization (WHO). A total of 14 of the 19 districts in the state, including Murshidabad , had been affected.
The authorities culled over 4 million birds in an effort to contain the disease which spreads rapidly. Officials announced in early February that the disease had been contained and subsequently a ban on sale and consumption of poultry birds was lifted.
Recently, the Food and Agricultural organization while commending the West Bengal government on its efforts had warned that constant vigilance was required to make sure there was no recurrence of the disease.
India has so far seen three major outbreaks of bird flu, but has not yet reported any cases of human infection.
The virus is highly contagious among birds but is difficult to pass to humans. Health experts fear the virus could mutate into a form that could easily pass between humans, setting off a global pandemic that could kill millions.
The WHO has confirmed 235 human deaths in 12 countries in Asia and Africa since 2003. Indonesia reported the highest number with 105 deaths.