MARGRAM, India (AFP) - Laboratory workers on Saturday analysed new samples from dead chickens amid fears India's worst-ever bird flu outbreak may have spread in eastern India as locals resisted a massive cull.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) has called the outbreak of avian flu among poultry in the densely populated eastern state of West Bengal the worst the country has faced -- partly because it is more widespread.
West Bengal chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee called the situation "very serious," while officials reported villagers were throwing chicken carcasses into rivers and ponds, increasing the risk of the virus spreading.
Bird flu has been confirmed in three districts of West Bengal where 85,000 poultry have died from the disease, the federal government said in a statement.
Fresh bird deaths were reported from another three districts and laboratory officials were analysing the dead poultry, the statement said.
The outbreak is the third in India, home to 1.1 billion people, since 2006.
"More serious risk factors are associated with this current outbreak than (the two) previously encountered, including that the affected areas are more widespread and because of the proximity to extended border areas," the WHO said.
West Bengal borders Bangladesh, which is also fighting an outbreak of the deadly H5N1 strain that analysts fear could mutate into a form easily transmissible between people.
Laboratory officials are working to confirm whether the Indian bird flu outbreak is also of the highly contagious H5N1 strain.
More than 36,000 chickens had been slaughtered so far in the three affected districts in Marxist-ruled West Bengal, where poverty is rampant.
The epicentre of the outbreak is Margram village -- 240 kilometres (150 miles) from state capital Kolkata.
"The government has declared Margram highly sensitive," state animal resources development minister Anisur Rahman said, adding the number of culling teams had been increased to 300 from 65.
Chickens were still on sale in the affected areas despite a ban, local officials said, and New Delhi has called in troops to prevent birds being smuggled out.
Humans typically catch the disease by coming into direct contact with infected poultry.
Attempts to fight the outbreak were frustrated by a lack of cooperation from local people angered by what they said was inadequate compensation for the dead birds.
Some 30 million rupees (770,000 dollars) has been set aside to compensate poultry owners.
"In some areas, villagers are feasting on dead chickens and are reluctant to disclose if there are any chickens or ducks in their backyards," said West Bengal health services director Sanchita Baksi.
Residents often leave their houses with a handful of chickens before the culling teams arrive, officials said.
Officials threatened to force their way into backyards if they were not allowed entry, local people said.
The state government aims to slaughter 400,000 birds in a five to 10-kilometre (three- to six-mile) radius of the affected areas and has said the process could take at least another six days.
Wild migratory birds have been blamed for the global spread of the disease, which has killed more than 200 people worldwide since 2003.
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- Guest 11 years ago
There is a widespread link between avian flu and water, e.g. in Egypt to the Nile delta or Indonesia to residential districts of less prosperous humans with backyard flocks and without central water supply as in Vietnam: http://www.cdc.gov/ncidod/EID/vol12no12/06-0829.htm. See also the WHO webside: http://www.who.int/water_sanitation_health/emerging/h5n1background.pdf and http://www.umwelt-medizin-gesellschaft.de/ abstract in English “Influenza: Initial introduction of influenza viruses to the population via abiotic water supply versus biotic human viral respirated droplet shedding” and http://www.thelancet.com/journals/laninf/article/PIIS1473309907700294/abstract?iseop=true “Transmission of influenza A in human beings”. Avian flu infections may increase in consequence to increase of virus circulation. Transmission of avian flu by direct contact to infected poultry is an unproved assumption from the WHO. Infected poultry can everywhere contaminate the drinking water. All humans have contact to drinking water. Special in cases of small water supplies this pathway can explain small clusters in households. In hot climates and the tropics flood-related influenza is typical after extreme weather and natural after floods. The virulence of the influenza virus depends on temperature and time. If young and fresh H5N1 contaminated water from low local wells, cisterns, tanks, rain barrels or rice fields is used for water supply the water temperature for infection may be higher (at 24°C the virulence of influenza viruses amount to 2 days) as in temperate climates (for “older” water from central water supplies cold water is decisive to virulence of viruses: at 7°C the virulence of influenza viruses amount to 14 days). Human to human and contact transmission of influenza occur - but are overvalued immense. In the course of influenza epidemics in Germany, recognized clusters are rare, accounting for just 9 percent of cases e.g. in the 2005 season. In temperate climates the lethal H5N1 virus will be transferred to humans via cold drinking water, as with the birds in February and March 2006, strong seasonal at the time when drinking water has its temperature minimum. The performance to eliminate viruses from the drinking water processing plants regularly does not meet the requirements of the WHO and the USA/USEPA. Conventional disinfection procedures are poor, because microorganisms in the water are not in suspension, but embedded in particles. Even ground water used for drinking water is not free from viruses. In temperate climates strong seasonal waterborne infections like the norovirus, rotavirus, salmonella, campylobacter and - differing from the usual dogma - influenza are mainly triggered by drinking water, dependent on the water's temperature (in Germany it is at a minimum in February and March and at a maximum in August). There is no evidence that influenza primarily is transmitted by saliva droplets. In temperate climates the strong interdependence between influenza infections and environmental temperatures can't be explained by the primary biotic transmission by saliva droplets from human to human at temperatures of 37.5°C. There must be an abiotic vehicle like cold drinking water. There is no other appropriate abiotic vehicle. In Germany about 98 percent of inhabitants have a central public water supply with older and better protected water. Therefore, in Germany cold water is decisive to the virulence of viruses.