The Manipur government on Thursday began exterminating over 1.6 lakh fowls in a specified avian influenza-hit zone. Rain and medical check-up of the culling team, however, delayed the exercise by over 10 hours.
According to Dorendro Singh, director of the state’s animal husbandry department, 19 teams comprising five members each sent to different poultry farms in the “danger zone.” Other than the weather, ensuring immunity to the exterminators belated the start of the operation. “There’s no feedback from the teams yet, but they have been told to do the job as fast as possible,” Singh said.
All fowls — farm as well as local varieties — targeted for slaughter are within a radius of 5 km from the affected farm in the Chingmeirong area in Imphal East district. They include some 5,000 birds at the central poultry Farm in the city’s Mantripukhri area.
The decision to cull the fowls was taken on Wednesday after the Bhopal-based High Security Animal Disease Laboratory and the Pune-based National Institute of Virology confirmed bird flu as the reason behind the deaths of 132 chickens in Chingmeirong.
A government spokesman said the culling order invited brief protests, but “we convinced poultry farm owners about the impact bird flu can have on humans”. The government, he added, would be paying poultry owners within the sanitisation zone at least Rs 60 lakh as compensation. The government has also appealed the hotels to stop selling chicken for the time being.
Meanwhile, veterinary officials have not been able to ascertain the source of the avian flu virus that killed the fowls in Chingmeirong. Officials had earlier suspected the virus might have come from Myanmar.