The West Bengal government confirmed cases of avian flu in two villages under the Tehatta 1 block of the State's Nadia district on Tuesday and ordered the culling of all poultry birds within a radius of 3 km of the villages.

The government has also ordered the immediate destruction of eggs and feed material within the affected radius to control the spread of the disease.

According to a senior official of the State's Animal Resource Development Department, poultry samples collected from the two villages tested positive for H5 strain of avian influenza at both the Eastern Region Disease Diagnostic Laboratory in the city as well as the High Security Animal Disease Laboratory in Bhopal.

The official said that orders had been sent out for immediate culling of over 50,000 poultry birds in the two affected villages as well as in around 25 other villages located within a 3 km radius of the two villages.

“In addition to the culling strategy, surveillance will be carried out over a further radius up to 10 km. Apart from this, surveillance has also been strengthened in other parts of the State, especially the districts sharing border with Nadia,” he added.

The government has been asked to furnish a daily report on the control and containment operations to the Department of Animal Husbandry, Dairy and Fisheries. The Centre has advised a series of strategic actions to be taken immediately in the area by the Animal Husbandry and Public Health Departments.

These include declaration of infected and surveillance areas, ban on movement of poultry and its products in the infected area or enclosure of poultry and egg markets and shops within a radius of 10 km from the infected site, ban on movement of farm personnel, restricting access to wild and stray birds, restricting access to the infected premises, destruction of birds, disposal of dead birds and infected material, clean-up and disinfection followed by sealing of the premises and issue of sanitisation certificate, post operations surveillance and imposition of legislative measures along with necessary measures laid down in the Contingency Plan (2005) of the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.

“As regards compensation for loss of poultry on account of culling and destruction of birds, the rate for payment of compensation has been indicated to the State governments,” the official said.

The Centre has conveyed the decision to share costs of compensation equally with the State government and authorised the government to utilise funds available with them under the Centrally-sponsored programme ‘Assistance to States for Control of Animal Disease' (ASCAD).