Wednesday, January 30, 2008

India's Fight Against Bird Flu Likened To Going To War

The spread of bird flu through West Bengal has been fast and overwhelming. The truth about what is going on over there is murky, at best. But there are numerous incredible stories coming out of the region. Police are raiding homes to seize birds that owners refused to give up. Poultry believed to be infected with the virus has been eaten at festivals. Roadside store sales of eggs and poultry are booming. There is a general view that the bird flu virus as not as dangerous as international agencies claim it to be. India's borders are now being closed in an attempt to contain the spread. All bad news.

From AFP :

India's West Bengal state has since Monday been slaughtering chickens on a "war footing" as bird flu spread to new areas of the highly-populated province of 80 million people.
The disease has now been found in 13 of 19 districts in the eastern state, prompting fears it may reach local capital Kolkata which has a population of 13.5 million people.

The local government said it could revise the target number of birds to be culled up to three million, of some 20 million fowl counted in the state.

"We are worried the H5N1 virus was confirmed in samples from villages just 22 kilometres from Kolkata," West Bengal animal resources development minister Anisur Rahaman said.

"If it is required, culling teams will work throughout the night."
More than 1.5 million birds have been culled since the outbreak was reported a fortnight ago.

New Delhi on Monday tried to calm nerves while the price of poultry products dropped in West Bengal and in some of India's 28 other states, including New Delhi.

950 government-appointed culling teams were working round the clock in West Bengal, where a fourth of its population is in the zone of possible infection.

Two states hemming West Bengal sealed their borders with the stricken districts after TV networks in separate reports said the Marxist-ruled province bordering Bangladesh was yet to offer an adequate response to the crisis.

In New Delhi, butcheries reported a steep fall in poultry sales, with some establishments warning businesses would take a hit if the situation in West Bengal was not brought under control.

West Bengal authorities raided backyard traders at night to avoid resistance from locals who, fearing financial loss, would try to hide the birds or lock up their houses to prevent the chickens from being culled.

Poultry owners say they have been devastated by the mass cull, with the government paying only about 40 rupees (one dollar) for each dead chicken, compared with the 80 rupees they could earn on the market, excluding egg sales.

1 comment:

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