After Assam, West Bengal is next to be hit by bird flu. And it has returned after just a gap of six months. While official confirmation is awaited, Animal Resource Development department officials said the H5N1 strain was found in samples of carcasses from Malda district after preliminary tests.
Bird flu was reported in the English Bazaar area of Malda after more than 2,000 poultry birds died in backyard farms. The district administration is set to start culling in English Bazaar and its adjoining blocks from Tuesday, without waiting for official confirmation from the Union Agriculture Ministry. The state government on Monday cancelled all leaves of ARD department officials indefinitely.
The flu first hit Rampurhat in Birbhum in mid-January this year, spreading fast to 14 other districts. After that, the government had decided to conduct an epidemiological surveillance across districts to prevent any further recurrence or outbreak.
Dr JL Chakraborty, former ARD director, said: “The flu might spread rapidly again in other districts like the previous attack but it is unfortunate there is no epidemiological survey in this regard despite the government's assurance.”