H5N1 hits Nepal for first time, strikes another Indian state

Jan 20, 2009 (CIDRAP News) – Animal health workers in Nepal are culling thousands of poultry in response to the country's first outbreak of H5N1 avian influenza, as officials in India said the virus spread to another Indian state, Sikkim in the northeastern part of the country.

In a Jan 16 report to the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE), government officials in Nepal said the virus struck backyard poultry in a village in Jhapa district in the southeastern corner of the country. The outbreak killed 14 of 13,000 susceptible birds in the area.

Investigators have not determined the source of the outbreak, the OIE report said.

Laxman Hamal, a government administrator, said more than 10,000 chickens and ducks have been culled over the past 4 days, Agence France-Presse reported today. Hamal said officials have banned the sale, transport, consumption, and farming of poultry in the outbreak area for the next 3 months to control the spread of the virus.

Elsewhere, a veterinary official in India's Sikkim state said today that tests have revealed the H5N1 in dead poultry and wild birds, Reuters reported today. Sikkim, located in northeast India, is the country's smallest state and borders West Bengal state, as well as Nepal and China, all of which have reported recent H5N1 outbreaks.

Officials plan on culling about 15,000 chickens and ducks in Sikkim, the report said.

India's health ministry has sent a rapid response team to the area to conduct surveillance in nearby residents and has shipped oseltamivir (Tamiflu), masks, and other protective equipment to the area, the Times of India reported today.

India has battled sporadic H5N1 outbreaks since 2006, most recently in several districts in West Bengal and Assam states.

See also:

Jan 16 OIE report

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