India's West Bengal begins culling in second area hit by bird flu
(dpa) - Authorities in India's eastern West Bengal state began culling operations on Thursday in Malda, the second district in the state where bird flu resurfaced almost a month after the state government claimed it had contained the virus, news reports said.
The culling drive started at a state-run poultry farm where at least 200 chickens had died since March 13, West Bengal's Animal Resources Development Minister Anisur Rahman was quoted as saying by IANS news agency.
Bird flu was confirmed in English Bazaar area of Malda on Wednesday after blood samples sent to a state-run animal diseases laboratory tested positive for the deadly H5N1 strain of the virus.
Rahman said all birds within a 3-kilometre radius of the farm would be culled within the next three days.
More than 28,000 birds have already been destroyed in Malda's adjoining Murshidabad district after a fresh outbreak of avian influenza was confirmed on March 9.
An earlier outbreak in West Bengal, confirmed on January 15, was the worst outbreak in the country by the World Health Organization (WHO). A total of 14 of the 19 districts in the state, including Malda and Murshidabad, had been affected.
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.
The UN Food and Agricultural Organization commended the state government on its containment efforts at the time but 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.