December 18, 2008


India bird flu outbreak spreads to second state

The bird flu outbreak of last month has spread to another state, West Bengal, but there have been no cases of human infections, federal and state government officials said Wednesday (December 17).

Last month, the disease broke out in the eastern state of Assam.

West Bengal state authorities Tuesday culled 155 birds in the Malda district.

"We expect 16,000-17,000 birds to be culled at Malda," a state government official said.

"The culling operations are expected to be over by this weekend," said the official, declining to be named.

Nearly 400,000 birds have already been destroyed in Assam since the disease was reported.

State health authorities said the cause of the latest outbreak was yet to be determined, but added there was a possibility the H5N1 strain of flu had come in from birds smuggled in from neighbouring countries.

The bird flu might have also been carried by migratory birds, which fly to India from as far away as Siberia.

Authorities in China announced Tuesday they had begun slaughtering and vaccinating poultry after the virus was detected in the eastern province of Jiangsu.

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