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Suspect H5N1 Spread to Assam and Meghalaya

Recombinomics Commentary 12:24
January 25, 2008

according to a section of officials of the State Veterinary and Animal Husbandry department, the virus is suspected to have reached Goalpara district and neighbouring Khasi Hills of Meghalaya from West Bengal.

Though the officials refused to confirm the detection of the suspected virus in poultry in Assam, it, however, asserted that the Central team, which is on a visit to the State, is suspecting the spread of the virus to the NE States also.

The above comments described suspect H5N1 poultry deaths in neighboring Assam and Meghalaya (see satellite map).  Thus, the H5N1 confirmed in West Bengal is spreading to adjacent districts in India as well as adjacent countries.

Although Assam has been instructed to seal its border with West Bengal, the above report suggest H5N1 has already moved into Assam.  H5N1 or dead poultry has been reported in most of the blocks of Cooch Behar, and dead migratory birds have also been noted in the area, so spread is likely, without or without border sealing.

The above comments also raise questions about the “precautionary” culling in regions adjacent to West Bengal, like the Katihar district in Bihar, or the culling in North Dinajpur.  Both areas are adjacent to Malda, where H5N1 has been confirmed, but it seems likely that the culling also involves dead poultry infected with H5N1. 

The most recent West Bengal update adds two more districts, Howrah and Purulia, to the nine previously confirmed.  Thus, 11 of the 19 districts of West Bengal have laboratory confirmed H5N1.

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