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Bird flu: India resumes culling

The authorities launched a new mass slaughter of chickens after fresh cases of bird flu were detected in M'rashtra.

india Updated: Mar 16, 2006 11:01 IST

The authorities launched a new mass slaughter of chickens after fresh cases of bird flu were detected in poultry in Maharashtra.

The latest cases announced on Tuesday were in Jalgaon district in Maharashtra, 140 kilometres from the initial outbreak on February 18 in Navapur, senior animal husbandry official Bijay Kumar said.

He confirmed the strain detected in the chickens was H5N1.

The new cases came just as people were regaining their nerve to eat chicken following government advertisements assuring consumers that properly cooked poultry products were safe to eat.

"We started the culling operations of 70,000 birds ... from Wednesday," District Collector Vijay Singhal said.

Animal husbandry official Kumar estimated the slaughter would take three days.

Kumar said health workers were doing door-to-door checks to see if anyone was suffering from symptoms of bird flu.

Poultry would be killed in a 10-kilometre radius of the four affected villages in the district, he said.

Hospitals set up isolation wards for anyone suspected of having bird flu as Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar urged people to stay calm.

However, the district administration urged the people not to consume poultry products till the virus was contained.

Last month doctors tested nearly 100 people for the virus but results were negative.

Federal agricultural ministry official Upma Chowdhry said most of the latest birds affected were backyard poultry, in contrast to the first outbreak which was concentrated among chicken farms.

Husbandry official Kumar said while some birds were being killed on Wednesday, the slaughter would start in earnest the next day as many villagers were celebrating Holi on Wednesday.

"This time a stricter quarantine will be introduced," Kumar said. "Entry and exit routes will be very, very regulated."

First Published: Mar 16, 2006 09:59 IST