Tripura begins culling to contain bird flu

Tripura begins culling to contain bird fluAgartala, Jan 27 - With a fresh outbreak of bird flu at a government-run farm in western Tripura, authorities Friday started culling more than 1,600 poultry birds to contain spread of the infection, officials said here.

"In addition to culling poultry birds, destruction of eggs and feed material also has begun at the ICAR (Indian Council of Agriculture Research) farm at Lembuchara in western Tripura so as to control further spread of the disease to the neighbouring villages," Manoranjan Sarkar, Tripura animal resource development department director, told IANS.

"Besides the ICAR farm, over 12,000 birds and ducks in the adjoining villages and poultry farms would also be culled within the next four days," he added.

Samples of sick poultry birds from the ICAR farm were found to contain H5 strain of avian influenza virus. The samples have been tested and found positive by the High Security Animal Disease Laboratory in Bhopal, he said.

The ICAR farm, 25 km north of Tripura capital city Agartala, is surrounded by several villages.

On the advice of the central government, Tripura has also decided to cull poultry birds within a radius of three km, and conduct surveillance within a radius of 10 km.

"The state government has been asked to furnish a daily report on the control and containment operations to the central government's department of animal husbandry, dairying and fisheries in the ministry of agriculture," a state government official said.

Tripura has also imposed a ban on the import of poultry birds, ducks and other poultry products.

Tripura Chief Secretary S. K. Panda held a high-level meeting with senior officials after the Bhopal laboratory confirmed the incidence of the flu infection among birds.

Sarkar said 14 rapid response teams have been formed to cull the ducks and birds at the ICAR farm and in adjoining villages.

"The BSF (Border Security Force) has been alerted to check entry of ducks and birds from across the border," the official said.

Tripura, which shares an 856-km border with bird flu hit Bangladesh, was affected by avian influenza in April and May 2008, forcing authorities to cull over 250,000 poultry birds and ducks then.

India declared itself free from bird flu (Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza) on Dec 29 last year.(IANS)