30,000 poultry culled in Manipur, rains hampers work


Imphal : Authorities in Manipur have culled about 30,000 poultry with heavy rains hampering efforts to achieve the target of culling 160,000 birds following the outbreak of bird flu, officials said Friday.

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"We began the operations Thursday but heavy rains have come in the way of speeding up our work. We are trying our best to finish the task as soon as possible," K. Gopal, nodal officer of the Animal Disease Control Programme in Manipur, told IANS.

The culling was being carried out in an area of five km radius from the farm at Chenngmeirong near Imphal from where the deaths were reported July 11.

About 20 Rapid Response Teams with five members in each group led by a veterinarian is involved in the culling. The poultry include chickens and ducks.

The state government Wednesday sounded a general alert across Manipur and banned the sale and purchase of poultry after the Indian health and animal husbandry departments confirmed that tests carried out on chickens that died at the Chenngmeirong farm had tested positive for bird flu.

"There are no fresh reports of any unnatural deaths of poultry from across the state. We are maintaining strict surveillance on other farms with veterinarians carrying out checkups of all poultry," Gopal said.

A team of central veterinary and health experts from New Delhi was camping in Imphal to help local authorities prevent the virus from spreading further. Health officials said there were no immediate reports of humans contracting the virus although they have put on medication about a dozen workers of the poultry farm where the deaths were reported.

"We have put the workers on Tamiflu and keeping a close watch on their health status. Health checkups are on and we are monitoring the situation in an around the farm area," a health department official said.

There are an estimated 60,000 people residing in an around the five km radius from the farm from where the virus was reported.

There has been no reported case of bird flu in other northeastern states, but the spread of the virus in Manipur has led to panic in the region with authorities in the adjoining states of Assam, Tripura, Nagaland and Mizoram sounding a general alert and banning import of poultry.