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H5N1 Confirmed in Malda West Bengal

Recombinomics Commentary 16:30
January 21, 2008

Bird flu in West Bengal spread to a seventh district Malda while authorities on Monday raised the target to cull 20 lakh birds in the next one week in a desperate bid to curb the reach of the dreaded avian disease.

The above comments describe the confirmation of H5N1 in another West Bengal district (see updated satellite map).  The location of Malda, just north of the massive outbreak in Birbhum and adjacent to Bangladesh, suggested the bird deaths there would test positive eventually, and media reports indicated culling had begun last week, again signaling that the situation on the ground is worse than the delayed confirmations.

The number of reports of dead poultry continues to pour in and includes multiple outbreaks at the northern and southern borders of West Bengal, suggesting that soon the entire region will have confirmed H5N1.

The increased cull target of 2 million birds reflects the announced and suspected H5N1 positives in West Bengal.  Moreover, observers are now being dispatched to adjacent regions in India to the west of West Bengal, and neighboring countries are banning imports or sealing their borders.

However, the spread of H5N1 is likely to be linked to resident and migratory wild birds, so attempts to halt the spread on the ground are not likely to succeed.

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