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No bird flu case in humans: Centre

The Centre says samples from the affected areas in West Bengal have tested negative.

india Updated: Jan 22, 2008 17:18 IST

The Centre on Tuesday allayed fears of bird flu spreading to humans in West Bengal even as the eighth district of the state North 24 Parganas reported a large number of poultry deaths, government sources said.

"To date we have not got any confirmation for that (bird flu affecting humans)," Union Health Minister Anbumani Ramadoss told reporters on the sidelines of a function in Delhi.

Expert teams have fanned out in seven districts of the state -- Birbhum, Murshidabad, South Dinajpur, Burdwan, Nadia, Bankura and Malda -- where they face a raised target of culling 20 lakh chickens in the next seven days.

The bird flu scare is looming large over North 24 Parganas district too with reports of chickens deaths pouring in from three areas bordering flu-affected Nadia district.

Sources in the West Bengal Animal Husbandry Department said that the culling target had been raised to 20 lakh chickenss after blood samples sent from Malda district tested positive of the bird flu virus on Monday.

Ramadoss said that the screening was conducted within 10 km of the affected areas and all people who live in the villages had been randomly tested by Health Ministry teams.

"There is no reason to be concerned about any human cases of bird flu," Ramadoss said, adding, "We are vigilant".

The National Institute of Communicable Diseases (NICD), which is responsible for carrying out screening, today said that all five human samples taken from West Bengal have tested negative.

"The samples which were taken from South Dinajpur and Birbhum did not have any clinical symptoms of the disease," NICD Director Shivlal told PTI.

"Three samples which had been sent to NICD, New Delhi, had tested negative yesterday and NICD, Kolkata, which tested five samples has confirmed today that all of them are negative for the presence of avian influenza," he said.

In Birbhum district, two trucks carrying chickens bound for Jharkhand were detained today at Nalhati as the government has banned movement of poultry from bird flu-affected districts, government sources said.

South Dinajpur District Magistrate S Chattapadhyay said that the birds' bloods samples sent from Gangarampur to Central laboratories have tested negative, which shows that the disease has not spread to new areas.

He also said that on Monday around 71,000 chickenss were culled and 61,000 eggs destroyed.

About Rs 11 lakh has been paid as compensation to the affected traders, the DM said.

A report from Patna said Bihar government has banned import of poultry from neighbouring West Bengal.

"We have put a blanket ban on import of birds from West Bengal in the wake of reports of the dreaded H5N1 virus spreading there," Deputy Chief Minister Sushil Kumar Modi, who is also holding the portfolio of Animal and Fishery Resources, said today.

Modi said the district authorities of Katihar, Purnia, Kishanganj and Araria have been asked not to allow birds from neighbouring West Bengal and keep a close watch on the situation in their districts.