Dec 1, 2008 (CIDRAP News) – Government officials in India recently confirmed an H5N1 avian influenza outbreak in the northeastern state of Assam, according to a Nov 28 report from the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE).
The virus struck backyard poultry in a small village, killing 324 of 391 birds, according to the OIE report. Testing on samples from the birds was conducted at the High Security Animal Disease Laboratory in Bhopal, which reported the positive H5N1 findings on Nov 27.
India's last H5N1 outbreak occurred in May, when the virus struck backyard poultry in West Bengal state. That outbreak signaled the end of a 5-month battle against the virus at several sites in West Bengal and Tripura states, both of which adjoin Bangladesh. On Nov 4 India filed a final report on the 42 outbreaks in those two northeastern states.
In Assam, officials ordered the culling of all domestic poultry within a 5-km radius of the outbreak site and said owners would be compensated for their birds. The OIE report said authorities have closed poultry markets and curbed the sale and transport of birds in the zone near the outbreak.
Manoranjan Choudhury, deputy director of Assam's veterinary department, said that animal health workers have culled 40,000 of 60,000 poultry that were slated for culling, according to a report today from the Times of India. He said chickens and ducks are affected by the slaughtering activities, which will involve 48 villages. Twenty-two rapid response teams are expected to complete the operations within the next 2 or 3 days, Choudhury told the Times.
Officials are investigating the outbreak and have not determined the source, the OIE report said.
Despite several poultry outbreaks, India has never reported a human H5N1 case.