Following an outbreak of the deadly avian influenza, Tripura Saturday sounded a bird flu alert and intensified surveillance.

Two central government teams comprising scientists and doctors arrived in Tripura Saturday to assist the state authorities. They are closely monitoring the situation, an official said.

“We have deployed 16 Rapid Response Teams (RRT) in the affected areas of west Tripura district and have asked officials to look for signs of any bird flu outbreak elsewhere,” Tripura animal resource development department (ARDD) joint director Jyotirmoy Chakraborty told IANS.

With a fresh outbreak of bird flu at the Radha Kishore Nagar government farm, 25 km north of Agartala, in western Tripura, more than 3,000 ducks have been culled till Friday.

Chakraborty said: “We will cull over 1,000 more ducks and poultry birds in three villages adjoining R.K. Nagar farm at the earliest to check the spread of the viral disease.”

A central team from the Indian Veterinary Research Institute (IVRI) in Uttar Pradesh’s Izatnagar in Bareilly and another from the North Eastern Region Disease Diagnostic Laboratory (NERDDL) in Guwahati have arrived in Tripura to assist the state authorities.

“The Tripura government has sounded a ‘red alert’ across the state and asked ARDD doctors and other officials to keep a close surveillance on the death of birds. If any death is reported, samples should be sent to the laboratories immediately,” Chakraborty said.

He added: “After the death of some ducks at the government-run farm, we have sent samples to various laboratories. The Eastern Region Disease Diagnostic Laboratory (ERDDL) in Kolkata and the High Security Animal Disease Laboratory (HSADL) in Bhopal have confirmed that the samples are positive for the H5 strain of avian influenza.”

The surveillance will cover an area of up to 10 km around the stricken farm.

The government has asked for daily report on the control and containment operations.

According to ARDD commissioner Sriram Taranikant, with the culling of 3,000 ducks and destruction of thousands of eggs, birds’ fodder and other materials, the estimated loss would be around Rs.800,000.

“The state government has requested the central government to bear 90 percent of the cost,” an official said.

Tripura was affected by avian influenza in April and May 2008, forcing the authorities to cull over 200,000 poultry birds.

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