Bird flu has erupted in West Bengal after a gap of seven months.
Bhopal-based High Security Animal Disease Laboratory (HSADL) has found the bird flu virus (H5N1 strain) in seven out of 12 samples received from Murshidabad district, in the north-central part of the state.
“Three samples last week and four on Tuesday tested positive,” HSADL Joint Director Shiv Charan Dubey told HT.
Based on the Bhopal lab report, the department of animal husbandry, dairy, and fisheries (DAHD) of the Centre has written to the West Bengal government, asking it to take steps like culling birds that are within 3 km of the Nagar and Hazarabati villages of the Khargram block, the centre of the outbreak. More than 3,000 birds had been culled in the area, sources said.
The last outbreak of avian influenza in West Bengal, in North Dinajpur district, was in May last year. In October, the government had declared the country free of bird flu.
Bird flu, also known as avian influenza and H5N1, has spread among poultry in some villages of Murshidabad. The DAHD has identified two more epicentres in Haripur and Ninur villages in the Khargram block. The virus was also confirmed in poultry in Faridpur village of Murshidabad.
Between November 2008 and May 2009, there were several bird flu outbreaks in poultry in Assam (18 epicentres), West Bengal (11 epicentres) and Sikkim (one epicentre).
“A 3-member Central Rapid Response team is stationed at Murshidabad to assist the state health authorities in tracking infection in people,” said a health ministry official.