There appears to be another assassin at Bengal’s doorstep. While parts of Kolkata and its surroundings have been hit by dengue and viral fever, a spectre of bird flu is lurking in Baduria and Swarupnagar, about 100 km from here, where more than 1 lakh chickens have reportedly perished.
The suspected outbreak of the virus took place over the past fortnight with birds displaying symptoms of respiratory trouble, lack of energy, swelling of head, eyelids and comb, similar to the deadly virus. Bird flu virus (H5N1) had struck Bengal between 2007 and 2009 affecting the entire poultry industry.
“We have got reports of several thousands of poultry birds, mainly chickens, dying in some villages of Baduria and Swarupnagar with symptoms of bird flu. Our experts have rushed to the spot to take stock of the situation,” K K Saha, director of the animal resource development department), told HT.
“Some carcasses have been sent to the Regional Disease Diagnostic Laboratory (RDDL) in Belghachia for serological tests which will confirm if the birds died because of H5N1 virus. But there is no need to spread panic among the villagers,” Saha added.
An ARD official said all villages in both the blocks and adjoining areas have been sensitised on how to keep a watch on poultry birds.
Bengal’s poultry industry suffered more than Rs. 500 crore loss following the deaths of about 40 lakh chickens in 18 districts during 2007 and 2008. Most of the deaths were because of precautionary culling to prevent the spread of the virus.
A senior ARD department at New Secretariat building said, “We have alerted all district offices of the animal resource development soon after we came to know about Baduria and Swarupnagar. Districts offices have been asked to rush to the spot and find out if birds are dying in large numbers.