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Bird flu: WB's neighbours won't take chances

February 02, 2008 01:04 IST

As the Central government planned culling operations in West Bengal's neighbouring states to prevent the spread of birdflu, samples of dead birds in Jammu and Kashmir, Haryana and Madhya Pradesh were being tested for the disease while all the zoos in the country were put on alert.

Bird-flu affected West Bengal, meanwhile, faced a potential health hazard on another front amid reports that culling teams were leaving without undergoing the mandatory quarantine.

The state government admitted some lapses and directed that the culling personnel must be quarantined for seven days.

The five kilometre stretch in West Bengal's neighbouring states adjoining the affected areas would be covered under the culling operation, Health ministry officials said in Delhi adding the move is preventive in nature.

The move follows a high-level meeting the Union Agriculture Ministry and Health Ministry officials had with officials of Orissa, Jharkhand, Bihar and Assam.

Meanwhile, the reports of death of two migratory birds (bar-headed geese) in Jammu and Kashmir triggered fears of bird flu in the state.

The samples have been sent to the High Security Animal Disease Laboratory in Bhopal for testing, Union Animal Husbandry Commissioner S K Bandhopadhyay told media persons in Delhi.

Samples have also been sent from Haryana to the HSADL following reports of poultry deaths in the state, he said.

Nearly 100 chicken were found dead in three villages in Khargone in MP in the last three days following which officials have sent samples from the dead birds to HSADL.

The Centre also directed the West Bengal government to ensure that culling teams undergo the necessary tests before going back to their families.

In Kolkata, the West Bengal government admitted there were lapses in quarantining culling teams, which left without being isolated and cullers returned to their families posing a potential health hazard.

"Noting the initial lapses, directives have been issued that culling team members must be quarantined for seven days to prevent contracting the H5N1 virus," Animal Resources Development minister Anisur Rahaman said.

Reports from some of the affected districts like Birbhum and Murshidabad earlier said that some culling team members left the quarantine zone to meet their families posing a potential health hazard.

The Central Zoo Authority alerted all zoos across the country to take preventive measures in the wake of bird flu outbreak in West Bengal.

"We are issuing guidelines to all major zoos across the country to ensure that the animals in the enclosures are safe from the avian flu," B R Sharma, member secretary of CZA, which is the autonomous body under the Environment Ministry, told PTI.

Zoo officials have been asked to provide disposal gloves, masks, caps and other accessories to animal keepers working at various enclosures particularly birds, Sharma said.

Nearly 300 chicken were reported to have died in Jalpaiguri, raising fears that it might become the 14th district in West Bengal to be hit by the deadly virus. There are 19 districts.

State Animal Resources Development Minister Anisur Rahaman said no fresh bird flu infection was reported from the state where 'the situation is under control and improving.'
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