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Bengal comes in for flak over bird flu
With avian flu continuing to haunt West Bengal, the union health minister Dr Anbumani Ramados has expressed his displeasure at the lackadaisical attitude of the state and expressed fears that it may witness the first human case of the deadly virus.
THE LEFT Front government in West Bengal has come in for flak for its failure to check the bird flu menace in the state over the last three months. The union health minister Dr Anbumani Ramados has expressed fears that if the state government continues to be lackadaisical about dealing with the malaise, the state may see the first human case of the deadly virus.
The Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) has expressed similar fears because the affected areas have a high density of humans and poultry. Incidentally, FAO officials had cautioned after a visit in mid-February that avian flu would occur again.
The belief that the West Bengal government has been lackadaisical in dealing with bird flu has gained ground because it has taken three months after the avian flu outbreak for the government to sit up and decide on forming a committee to find out the source of the virus. The committee will have four members.
One reason for bird flu resurfacing in the state has to do with culling operations being handled badly. Many birds were not slaughtered in the first phase of the virus outbreak. But the state's animal husbandry department claims that it had met its culling target of over four million birds. However, the proposed committee would look into whether culling was done properly and whether proper training was imparted to prevent bird flu from spreading, minister for animal husbandry, Anisur Rahman told reporters during the weekend.  
The minister said a long term solution to prevent the disease will be suggested by the centre. The committee being set up in the state will go into the source of the virus, its spread, prevention and the genetic sequence. Ten per cent of areas in 17 districts of the state have been identified as avian flu affected. He claimed that there were no birds in the earmarked area and even selling of eggs had been banned.
There was a fresh outbreak in March in the districts of Malda, Murshidabad and Nadia.
With the centre distinctly unhappy with the manner in which the state government has handled the situation a meeting is likely to take place on the issue towards the end of the month.
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