The Assam government has accelerated its programme of culling fowl in nine districts in the state following the detection of upper respiratory infection in humans.
“A total of 317,673 birds have been culled since November 27. Another 231,000 fowls will be culled by December 16,” government spokesman and health minister Himanta Biswa Sarma said here on Saturday. The culling operation is being carried out within a 3-km radius of the bird flu epicenter. Apart from the birds, 160,095 eggs and 11,000 kg of poultry feed were also destroyed.
“Though avian influenza has been confirmed in six districts, there are reports of sudden deaths of a large number of poultry birds in three other districts. We have begun culling in these three districts as a precautionary measure,” Sarma said.
The “sudden death” cases have been reported from North Lakhimpur, Sivasagar and Baska districts. Samples have been collected from these areas and sent to the Bhopal-based High Security Animal Disease Laboratory for confirmation of infection of H5N1 virus.
The nine confirmed bird flu epicenters are Rajabazar, Sarpara, Bezera and Rampur in Kamrup district, Khanapara and Patgaon in Kamrup (Metro) district, Katajhar in Barpeta district, Katla in Nalbari district and Ward No. 6 of Dibrugarh town in Dibrugarh district.
A cautious Assam health department has put 3.5 lakh people in bird flu hit areas under medical surveillance after 150 people were detected with upper respiratory infection and fever. The bulk of the cases are from Kamrup district. According to the Health and Family Welfare regional director Partha Jyoti Gogoi, none of the 150 has tested positive for the H5N1 virus.
In Guwahati, the culling operation entered the fourth day on Saturday.
Meanwhile, chief minister Tarun Gogoi reviewed the situation along with a central team led by Animal Husbandry commissioner A.B. Bandopadhyay and Agriculture Ministry secretary N. Gopal Ram. Following this, the government banned inter-district trade in poultry and poultry products.