Orissa has sealed its borders with West Bengal and banned the import of poultry from the neighbouring state hit by bird flu to prevent the spread of the deadly virus, officials said on Sunday.
Prohibitory orders were clamped on Saturday night in at least 72 villages in Balasore district and several villages in Mayurbhanj district, Bishnupada Sethi, state director of the fishery and animal resource development department, told IANS.
Apart from sealing borders, hundreds of veterinary officials have been deployed to check vehicles coming in from West Bengal, he said.
On Saturday, officials seized two egg-laden trucks at Laxamananath check post, Sethi said.
Another truck seized was carrying around 400 poultry birds coming from West Bengal at Rajghat in Balasore, said a district veterinary official.
Nearly 30 veterinary teams have been moving from village to village in Balasore and checking poultry birds for any sign of the dreaded virus, he added. No bird has been found affected by the H5N1 virus in Orissa so far.
"We have asked the collectors of all 30 districts to remain alert and draw samples from birds that have flu-like symptoms," said Hrusikesh Panda, secretary of the fishery and animal resource development department.
We have placed advertisements in all newspapers and television channels, asking people not to panic, he added.
The prices of chicken and poultry products have fallen drastically in many parts of Orissa, official sources said. The price of a dressed chicken, which used to be Rs 80 per kg, has come down to Rs 40 in Balasore and Rs 60 in Bhubhaneswar.
Avian flu has spread to 11 districts of West Bengal - Birbhum, South Dinajpur, Murshidabad, Nadia, Burdwan, Bankura, Malda, Hooghly, Cooch Behar, Purulia and Howrah since breaking out on January 15.
The state's poultry industry says it has lost over Rs 1 billion ($25 million) ever since the outbreak.
On Friday, authorities in West Bengal said they had met nearly half the culling target by killing over one million poultry. The state has targeted to slaughter at least 2.1 million birds.