Avian Influenza
Culling operations completed in Maharashtra
Mar 21, 2006, 02:20

Culling operations in four Maharashtra villages that reported India's latest cases of bird flu have been completed but house-to-house mopping up will continue for a few days, it was announced Monday.

A total of 91,161 birds were put down and Rs.2.8 million paid as compensation to poultry farmers in four villages of Jalgaon district, 415 km from state capital Mumbai, an official statement said.

"House-to-house mopping up will continue for the next couple of days to rule out possibility of any birds left out from the culling operations. This is necessary because sometimes the birds are kept by villagers in hutments situated outside villages, mostly on agricultural farms," the statement said.

The culling operations had begun March 17.

Apart from the 60 rapid response teams engaged in the culling, another 60 teams were engaged in disinfecting the area.

"The strategy is to disinfect all the houses in the three km radius (of the four villages) by spraying. Damp patches are being disinfected by spreading DDT powder and bleaching powder," the statement said.

The quarantine norms in the area are to be relaxed from Tuesday. Members of the rapid reaction teams have been put on seven days quarantine after completion of the culling operations.

The district authorities have clarified that no heavy bird mortality has been reported from the affected area due to avian influenza.

In one farm, mortality of 110 out of 14,800 birds was reported "which is assessed to be largely due to mismanagement", the statement said.

Samples have been drawn from these areas and sent for testing to the High Security Animal Disease Laboratory at Bhopal.

Referring to reports of large-scale bird mortality from Aligarh in Uttar Pradesh, the statement said "the diagnosis is of pneumonia of bacterial origin. The birds were treated with antibiotics and appear to have responded well to that treatment as mortality has reduced drastically on March 20."

Samples from Aligarh too have been sent to the Veterinary University at Mathura and to the Bhopal laboratory.

The new cases from Jalgaon were reported March 14, almost a month after India's first cases of the H5N1 strain of avian influenza were detected Feb 18 from Navapur village of Nandurbar district, 140 km from Jalgaon.

There have been no human casualties in India so far due to the virus.

Sales of poultry products, mainly chickens and eggs, were badly hit across India after the first bird flu cases were detected. Sales revived after a while but again plummeted as fresh cases were reported from Jalgaon.

India is the world's sixth largest producer of eggs and the fifth largest producer of broiler chickens. According to industry estimates, the country produced 43 billion eggs and 1.7 billion broilers in 2005.

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