Bird flu: Culling of birds begins in two districts of Kerala

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Alappuzha/Kottayam, Jan 5 (PTI) Culling of chickens and ducks began on Tuesday in parts of two districts in Kerala to contain H5N8 strain of bird flu there, official sources said.

Rapid response teams, set up by the administration, began culling ducks, hens and other domestic birds in and around a one km radius of the affected areas in Alappuzha and Kottayam districts on Tuesday morning as per the guidelines issued by the government, they said.

The operation was launched a day after results of the samples tested at the National Institute of High Security Animal Diseases in Bhopal confirmed the outbreak of the bird flu in the two districts.

Alappuzha district authorities said culling of birds in four panchayats of Nedumudi, Thakazhy, Pallippad and Karuvatta in Kuttanad region, where the outbreak has been reported, was expected to be completed by Wednesday evening.

In Karuvatta panchayat alone, around 12,000 birds will be culled, an official said.

In the affected areas of Neendoor panchayat in Kottayam district, the rapid response teams have culled some 3,000 birds so far, authorities said.

Around 1,700 ducks had died in a farm in Neendoor due to the viral infection.

Officials have said around 40,000 domestic birds, including 34,000 in Kuttanad region alone, will be culled to check the spread of the H5N8 virus.

Although the situation has been brought under control, authorities have sounded a high alert in the districts, considering the potential of the virus to infect humans.

The Alappuzha District Collector has banned the use and trade of meat, eggs and waste of domestic birds, including ducks and chicken, in Kuttanad and Karthikappalli Taluks, officials said. PTI TGB VS VS