Monday, January 21, 2008

West Bengal : Bird Flu Now In Six Districts, Locals Resist Poultry Culls

H5N1 Poultry Caught, Collected With Bare Hands

Government Goes Into Panic Mode As Virus Spreads Rapidly

The outbreak of H5N1 in West Bengal has shown just how quickly the virus can spread, and how unprepared some governments are to deal with such sudden outbreaks.

By all reports, the government of West Bengal is in chaos as H5N1 spreads through dozens of poultry farms and at least six districts. Poultry culls will see more than half a million birds killed within the week, and there are huge problems in getting small farmers to hand over poultry that is not yet sick, as compensation packages are not ready and are not being distributed widely enough.

Although the WB government claims there are no human infections, it would be remarkable if there were none, considering some of the emergency poultry culling is being done with bare hands due to a lack of equipment and proper preparation of workers.

Scary stuff
....officials say time is of essence in containing the outbreak in Bengal, where the virus seems to be spreading very fast and infecting thousands of birds everyday. A trend that also puts human health at grave risk.

Agriculture and food minister Sharad Pawar said on Saturday that "preventive and prophylactic culling" would only be launched in areas which report high and unusual mortality of poultry.

"In such a situation, we won't wait for the confirmation of bird flu. Because it is spreading in near-by districts, we have taken a decision that we are not going to wait for Bhopal's report," Pawar said.

The state government aims to slaughter 4 lakh birds in a five-to-10 kilometre (three-to-six mile) radius of the affected areas and aims to complete it by Monday, after which clean up and disinfection operations will begin.

Agreeing with West Bengal chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee's reaction, Pawar said the situation "was indeed alarming."

Meanwhile, West Bengal's efforts to control the outbreak drew a sharp reaction from minister of state for health Panabaka Laxmi.

Reacting to an article...which revealed how compensation was not being paid to farmers whose birds were being culled, she said the Centre is unhappy over the steps taken by the state to contain the virus.

"We are not satisfied," she said.

She added "compensation to poultry losers was not being properly distributed."
From AFP :
Avian flu has been reported in three more districts in eastern India where authorities said poultry farmers have delayed a massive bird cull aimed at halting the spread of the virus.

A total of six districts in eastern West Bengal state have reported an outbreak of avian flu among poultry including a new one late Suday, the government said.

"Samples of dead chickens in Bankura district tested positive Sunday," West Bengal animal resources minister Anisur Rahaman told AFP.

The outbreak is the third in India since 2006, and the worst so far, according to the World Health Organisation, partly because it is more widespread.

The state government aims to kill about 400,000 birds in all the affected districts but culling teams have so far slaughtered just 100,000 after facing hostility from villagers.

"Police have been asked to accompany the culling teams which is bringing good results," Rahaman said.

Residents oppose the slaughter of their birds because they want immediate compensation.

Near Margram village -- the epicentre of the outbreak -- the biggest poultry farm with 30,000 birds remained untouched as the owner locked up the premises.

Many others fled their homes carrying chickens before the arrival of the culling teams, officials said. Local people attacked five members of a culling team with sticks and stones on Saturday.

West Bengal state borders Bangladesh, which is also fighting a bird flu outbreak.

From the Times Of India :
The contrast couldn't have been more stark. World Health Organisation officials were covered top to toe in what looked like space suits while a ragtag crowd of barely clothed villagers handled poultry with their bare hands, in the wake of an H5N1 avian flu virus epidemic in some districts of West Bengal.

The photographs, more eloquent than words, encapsulate the attitude: Caution and protection for officials, to hell with the rest.

Both WHO and government handouts warn of infection risk for those handling poultry without precautionary gear. Even inhaling the air or drinking water in the area contaminated with bird droppings or dust could lead to infection. Yet no efforts to protect villagers were evident though over 35,000 birds have already been culled over two days.

The slow pace of destroying birds suspected of carrying the deadly virus is also because of reluctance on the part of people to give up their birds without compensation. The delay in paying out compensation to poultry owners is an inexcusable failure of the government.

Reluctant to part with the birds without getting compensated first, many are resorting to hiding the birds in closed spaces in their homes.

When there was a suspected outbreak of the H5N1 avian flu virus in Maharashtra and Gujarat in 2006, swift action was taken. More than 5,00,000 birds were culled in a mere 24 hours under supervision of the national disaster management cell. What happened this time in West Bengal?
West Bengal Border Sealed To Stop Spread Of Bird Flu

Does India Have 700 Bird Flu Patients In Isolation?


Dipl.-Ing. Wilfried Soddemann said...

Spread of avian flu by drinking water

There is a widespread link between avian flu and water, e.g. in Egypt to the Nile delta or Indonesia to residential districts of less prosperous humans with backyard flocks and without central water supply as in Vietnam: See also the WHO webside: and abstract in English “Influenza: Initial introduction of influenza viruses to the population via abiotic water supply versus biotic human viral respirated droplet shedding” and “Transmission of influenza A in human beings”.
Avian flu infections may increase in consequence to increase of virus circulation. Transmission of avian flu by direct contact to infected poultry is an unproved assumption from the WHO. Infected poultry can everywhere contaminate the drinking water. All humans have contact to drinking water. Special in cases of small water supplies this pathway can explain small clusters in households. In hot climates and the tropics flood-related influenza is typical after extreme weather and natural after floods. The virulence of the influenza virus depends on temperature and time. If young and fresh H5N1 contaminated water from low local wells, cisterns, tanks, rain barrels or rice fields is used for water supply the water temperature for infection may be higher (at 24°C the virulence of influenza viruses amount to 2 days) as in temperate climates (for “older” water from central water supplies cold water is decisive to virulence of viruses: at 7°C the virulence of influenza viruses amount to 14 days).
Human to human and contact transmission of influenza occur - but are overvalued immense. In the course of influenza epidemics in Germany, recognized clusters are rare, accounting for just 9 percent of cases e.g. in the 2005 season. In temperate climates the lethal H5N1 virus will be transferred to humans via cold drinking water, as with the birds in February and March 2006, strong seasonal at the time when drinking water has its temperature minimum.
The performance to eliminate viruses from the drinking water processing plants regularly does not meet the requirements of the WHO and the USA/USEPA. Conventional disinfection procedures are poor, because microorganisms in the water are not in suspension, but embedded in particles. Even ground water used for drinking water is not free from viruses.
In temperate climates strong seasonal waterborne infections like the norovirus, rotavirus, salmonella, campylobacter and - differing from the usual dogma - influenza are mainly triggered by drinking water, dependent on the water's temperature (in Germany it is at a minimum in February and March and at a maximum in August). There is no evidence that influenza primarily is transmitted by saliva droplets. In temperate climates the strong interdependence between influenza infections and environmental temperatures can't be explained by the primary biotic transmission by saliva droplets from human to human at temperatures of 37.5°C. There must be an abiotic vehicle like cold drinking water. There is no other appropriate abiotic vehicle. In Germany about 98 percent of inhabitants have a central public water supply with older and better protected water. Therefore, in Germany cold water is decisive to the virulence of viruses.

Dipl.-Ing. Wilfried Soddemann - Free Science Journalist - - - Epidemiological Analysis:

Anonymous said...

India keeps saying that kids are playing with infected chickens and people are eating infected chicken .... but there are no human cases yet?

I don't believe it. There has to be human cases already