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Bengal bird flu source lies in Bangladesh

According to a Govt official, Bangladesh has been identified as the source of outbreak of bird flu in south Dinajpur, one of the two affected districts in West Bengal.
Hindustan Times | By Sanchita Sharma and Rahul Singh, Siliguri
UPDATED ON JAN 18, 2008 03:04 AM IST

Bangladesh has been identified as the source of outbreak of bird flu in south Dinajpur, one of the two affected districts in West Bengal, a senior Animal Husbandry official said.

"The germs were brought by winds blowing from Bangladesh," Assistant Commissioner of the Central Animal Husbandry Department Sujit Dutta said in Balurghat, the headquarters of south Dinajpur.

Dutta said that the Centre is constantly monitoring the situation in the district. The BSF guarding the Indo-Bangla border in the district has been alerted to ensure that no poultry products could enter from Bangladesh, said Inspector General of Police RJS Nalwa.

However, there are reports on Thursday of spreading of the dreaded bird flu virus among chickens to new areas of Birbhum and Murshidabad districts of West Bengal.

Considering the serious implication of the situation, the Union Health Ministry has directed the West Bengal government to adopt quarantine measures to prevent transport of people, animals and birds from the bird flu-hit areas of Birbhum and South Dinajpur districts.

The West Bengal government has set a target of culling 3.76 lakh birds. Many poultry owners in Birbhum had sent their birds for sale outside the affected area despite there being a ban on movement of poultry, reports from the districts said.

Meanwhile, P Krishnan, heading a high-level delegation of the Union Health Ministry, said: “There is no cause for panic as the deadly virus has not infected any human as yet.”

Assam on high alert

Alarmed by the outbreak of bird flu in neighbouring West Bengal, a health alert on avian flu has been sounded in all the bordering districts of Assam to prevent the spread of the disease in the state.

The alert was sounded in Kokrajhar, Dhubri, Goalpara and Bongaigaon districts after a confirmation about the outbreak of birdflu in West Bengal, a senior official of the animal husbandry and veterinary department said.

WHO: outbreak is serious

The dreaded H5N1 bird flu virus is more infectious than previously thought, said World Health Organisation experts in The New England Journal of Medicine, creating worldwide panic. It can travel by sticking to surfaces, get kicked up in dust and feed to infect people, or contaminate ponds and lakes used for swimming or bathing, says the report.

Army in East bans chicken

The bird flu outbreak across West Bengal compelled the army on Thursday to order a ban on the supply of chicken to troops in the state to rule out the possibility of soldiers getting infected by the virus.

Lieutenant General Narayan Mohanty, Director General, Remount Veterinary Services, told the Hindustan Times, “We do not want to take any chances with the health of troops. Instructions have been issued to the Eastern Command to ban chicken.”

(With inputs from PTI)

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