Bird flu spread to two new districts in West Bengal as State government steps up its bird culling and awareness-building drive. The H5N1 virus was found in dead birds in Burdwan and Nadia, taking to five the number of infected districts in West Bengal. India, which is witnessing its fourth bird flu outbreak in poultry since 2006, has not reported any human infection.
This time a major shift from protocol is being done to help prevent its spread Centre has now asked the government of West Bengal to initiate culling operation of poultry even in areas where the virus is "suspected" to have struck. Though as per protocol, birds are culled in and around the infected area only after the presence of the deadly H5N1 Avian Influenza (AI), or bird flu virus, is established. The state government aims to slaughter 4 lakh birds in a 5 - 10 kilometre radius of the affected areas by Monday, after which cleaning up and disinfection operation will start.
State is also asking panchayats to advise people in the affected areas not to either consume chicken or trade it. However there is need to there was a need to increase awareness so that people did not dump dead birds in ponds or wells, which act as the source of water for villages. Bird flu has begun taking a toll on India's poultry business with Oman banning the import of all Indian poultry products. Domestic sales have also been affected.