West Bengal confirms new bird flu outbreak
After Assam, bird flu has spread its wings to the adjoining state of West Bengal, even as Orissa banned import of poultry. Several thousand birds have been slaughtered in Assam, where authorities have been battling an outbreak for several weeks. Special Coverageindia Updated: Dec 16, 2008 13:38 IST
Authorities in eastern India on Tuesday confirmed a fresh outbreak of bird flu after thousands of chickens were found dead and as another state struggled to bring the virus under control.Laboratory tests have confirmed that the birds in West Bengal state died of the deadly infection, secretary of animal resources development department Dilip Chakraborty said in local capital Kolkata.
Culling would begin on Wednesday, the government said.
Health authorities in the state had to kill five million poultry to control the virus earlier this year when India battled its worst bird flu outbreak.
The virus spread to 14 of the 19 districts in West Bengal, which has a population of more than 80 million. However, no human case was reported.
Officials in the northeast state of Assam have already killed 250,000 chickens in the past two weeks to control the spread
of the infection, which had sparked fears of a human case after many people were reported sick.
But India has still not reported any human case of the deadly H5N1 strain of the virus.
The World Health Organization says the H5N1 strain has killed nearly 250 people, mostly in Southeast Asia, since 2003.
Experts fear a virus mutation resulting in severe and easily transmitted influenza in humans could create a pandemic, potentially affecting up to one-fifth of the world's population.