No fresh reports of bird deaths, say authorities

No fresh reports of bird deaths, say authorities

Kolkata: Authorities in eastern India fighting an outbreak of bird flu in poultry said on Sunday that there were no fresh reports of bird deaths but that the virus could still spread to new areas.

“The situation appears to be slowly coming under control, but we are still waiting for test reports of dead bird samples from a few other places," Anisur Rahman, the animal resources minister for West Bengal, said on Sunday.

“It could still spread further," he added.

Government says laboratory tests have confirmed the H5N1 flu virus strain in at least two of West Bengal’s 19 districts, but said reports from nine other districts were likely to be the same. Experts fear the H5N1 flu virus strain could mutate into a form easily transmitted from person to person, leading to a pandemic. Officials there were relieved as there were no fresh cases of bird deaths in the last two days in the state of 80 million people.

There have also been no reported cases of humans being infected by the virus. “But we are still checking sick people and poultry for bird flu and trying to stop the virus from hitting the bigger cities," Rahman said.

Hundreds of policemen and veterinary staff were checking trucks carrying chickens and eggs to Kolkata. Authorities have banned dozens of poultry farms from sending products to Kolkata, barring a select 14, officials said.

“These farms can still send chickens to the city in sealed containers, but only after carrying out medical tests," Rahman said. Health officials continued to check markets for sick chickens and ducks on Sunday, but most people were opting for lambs and fish.

Bangladesh has banned the sale of poultry and eggs in several districts as the virus spread to more farms in the country, livestock ministry officials said on Sunday.