Bird flu wreaks havoc in Assam
The deadly bird flu virus is spreading to new areas in the northeastern state of Assam although over 200,000 poultry have been culled in the past two weeks.india Updated: Dec 11, 2008 09:43 IST
The deadly bird flu virus is spreading to new areas in the northeastern state of Assam although over 200,000 poultry have been culled in the past two weeks, officials said on Thursday.
"Already about 200,000 poultry has been culled in the past two weeks since the outbreak of the bird flu virus," Parthajyoti Gogoi, a central health ministry official, told IANS.
"It is a matter of worry with the virus now spreading to new areas and hence a maximum health alert has been sounded. Teams of doctors and paramedics are taking precautionary measures so that humans are not affected," Gogoi added.
"Bird flu has struck six of the 27 districts in Assam so far. An estimated 150,000 more poultry have been ordered to be killed," a veterinary official said.
The districts hit by bird flu are Kamrup (Metro), Kamrup (Rural), Dibrugarh, Nalbari, Barpeta and Chirang. Culling is being carried out in about 200 villages in the six districts.
The poultry targeted includes ducks and chickens. Authorities have imposed a ban on sale of poultry and poultry products in most parts of Assam after the bird flu outbreak.
"About 100 Rapid Response Teams comprising about seven personnel, including a veterinarian, are engaged in the culling drive. The operation is expected to continue for about a week to 10 days until the entire area is depopulated of the estimated 150,000 poultry," the veterinary official said.
The central health ministry confirmed the outbreak of bird flu after laboratory tests found strains of the deadly H5N1 avian influenza.
Assam's veterinary and animal husbandry department has sounded an alert and is maintaining strict surveillance on farms in the state, with veterinarians carrying out checks on all poultry. A central health ministry team is also assisting the local authorities in the culling operations.
The World Health Organization fears that the H5N1 strain could mutate into a form easily transmitted between humans and spark a pandemic.