The deadly H5N1 avian flu virus has been detected in the serum of about 12 samples of chicks in the blood test conducted at the Regional Disease Diagnostic Laboratory (RDDL) at Belgachhia in the city last week.
The blood samples were collected from poultry birds in the state-run Golapbag poultry farm in Burdwan town soon after bird flu cases were reported in a European country and then in neighbouring Pakistan.
This is the first time samples tested positive in Bengal since the deadly disease hit Jalgaon of Maharashtra exactly one year ago.
The serum test report has sent shock waves among the scientists of Belgachhia RDDL, sole well-equipped laboratory in the entire eastern India for confirmation of avian flu virus among poultry birds.
It was learnt that the RDDL authority has sent the samples along with their lab test report to the High Security Animal Disease Laboratory (HSADL) to Bhopal for final confirmation.
Dr Dilip Das, director of the state animal resource development (ARD) told the Hindustan Times, "We have got H5N1 positive in serum of several samples of poultry birds during eliza tests at RDDL. We have sent the serum samples along with our lab test report to the HSADL in Bhopal for confirmation. We are waiting for their report. Right now there is no case of birds dying due to the H5N1 attack anywhere in the state. As a result, there is no reason to create panic. It will affect the poultry industry."
Das said, "We have started eliza tests on blood samples at Belgachhia lab since January 19. The Central government has given us kits for the test."
Some officials of the state animal resource and development department said that the blood samples were collected from poultry birds in the Golapbag area of Burdwan town soon after the bird flu case was reported in a European country and then in neighbouring Pakistan.
Golapbag is one of biggest government-run poultry farms in the state. Huge quantities of chickens are supplied to markets across the state from the poultry farm regularly.
"During the past couple of weeks serum of about 100 poultry birds were tested in Belgachhia RDDL with the kits supplied by the Central Government. Most of the samples tested negative while only the 12 samples collected from Golapbag showed the avian flu virus positive reports. This prompted us to keep watch on poultry birds at Golapbag. We are taking stock of the situation at Golapbag poultry farm every day since the H5N1 strain was found in the samples," one of the officials said.
He said, "We will get the HSADL report within one week because the lab is overburdened with about 4000 to 5000 samples from different states every week."
It was learnt that three RDDL scientists Dr AG Bandopadhaya, Dr Tushar Pal and Dr Gurucharan Dutta had attended a meeting with the top officials of animal resource development wing under the agriculture ministry in Delhi last week to discuss about precautionary measures on bird flu threat in the country.
The Centre has asked the RDDL authority to form two special teams comprising four bird flu experts each in order to take preventive measures if the deadly disease hit any state of the eastern region.
The official said that some members of the two teams have the on-the-spot experience on how to combat bird flu when it had landed in Jalgaon in January in 2006.