Bird flu, which is now within striking distance of Kolkata and has gripped 11 districts of West Bengal, on Saturday spread to two more areas of the affected Murshidabad even as unseasonal rains hampered culling, but raised hopes that the spread of the virus could be stopped.
"The culling operation is being affected in some places due to rains. But scientists say that the rains also prevent spread of the virus," Animal Resources Development Minister Anisur Rehman told PTI from Murshidabad.
Culling teams in Howrah district neighbouring Kolkata, where samples from the Sankrail block tested positive for bird flu yesterday, could not start work due to heavy rains in the morning.
The authorities have deployed an 11-member team for culling poultry at Howrah's Manickpur area. Murshidabad District Magistrate Subir Bhadra told PTI that samples sent from Kandi and Beldanga (II) blocks to the High Security Animal Disease Laboratory at Bhopal were tested positive today.
Medical teams have been rushed to Murshidabad for conducting health check-ups of the culling team. So far 3 lakh chicken have been culled in the district, which had set a target of 7 lakh, district administration sources said.
With toady's count, the outbreak has taken into its grip nine blocks of the district, where samples had first tested positive ten days ago.
Culling was far short of its daily target of 20 lakh birds in Malda district.
Attributing the delay to stiff public resistance, Chachal Sub-divisional Development Officer Debasish Sarkar said while 353 birds could be culled on the first day, 4,765 chicken were killed yesterday. Police force was escorting the teams at Chachal sub-division, he said.
The villagers allowed culling after a great deal of persuasion, he said. Coochbehar District Magistrate Rajesh Kumar Sinha said 50 Rapid Response Teams continued culling in villages bordering Bangladesh for the second day today. Hooghly district magistrate Vinod Kumar said culling was over in the district. Arambagh Block Development Officer Suvanjan Das said a watch was being kept on B K Roy Poultry Farm, the biggest in the country.