Culling of Chicken Outpaced Due to Spread of Bird Flu In West Bengal

Right at the beginning of New Year 2008, the state of West Bengal, India witnessed a severe outbreak of bird flu among poultry. All the 13 out of 19 districts of West Bengal are seriously gripped by the deadly H5N1 virus, affecting the chicken health in the state. Very recently 24 Parganas (South) and West Midnapore have also come into the grip of bird flu, throwing a great section of the population into the danger zone. As per a report laid down by West Bengal Animal Husbandry Minister Anisur Rahman, bird flu virus has also affected several other districts like Murshidabad (Samshergunge) and Cooch Behar (Mathabhanga).

Almost over 1.57 million birds have been culled by Sunday, although 2.2 millions was the pre-set target. It has been declared that consuming chicken during this period may turn out to be seriously dangerous for human beings as well as for animals. Despite the fact that influenza A (H5N1) virus – bird flu virus are only deadly to poultry and does not usually affect mammals, the infections with H5N1 virus have crossed the species bar and infected mammals – both animals and humans in West Bengal, India causing death. With the outbreak of avian influenza (bird flu) among poultry, there is a high risk to human as well as the animal population that have a direct or indirect contact with infected birds.

Cessation to consume chicken during an outbreak of avian influenza among poultry is not enough to avoid getting infected with bird flu. The bird flu virus may also affect people and animals indirectly by contact with surfaces that have been contaminated by secretions and excretions from infected birds. This influenza virus occurs naturally among all birds almost world wide. The wild foul usually carry the avian influenza virus in their intestine but they hardly die of that, while the domestic foul like chicken, turkeys, ducks, pigeons etc. are found seriously affected by the virus, putting them to death.

Researches have been carried out in this regard and the findings revealed that infection with H5N1 virus among poultry are of two distinctive forms, distinguished by Low Pathogenic and High Pathogenic form. These are the two extremes of virulence where the birds show different symptoms. The Low Pathogenic form is sometimes undetected until it becomes serious. This causes mild symptoms like drop in egg production and ruffled feather accompanied by slight dizziness. However, the High Pathogenic form is highly contagious and spreads very fast through flocks of poultry within a short spell of time. This form affects multiple internal organs, causing the total loss of immunity, resulting in high mortality rate. The death rate is usually as high as 95% with 50 hours.

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