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India Reports Bird Flu in West Bengal


Indian authorities have confirmed a new outbreak of the deadly bird flu virus in the eastern state of West Bengal.

A state official Monday said authorities found the H5N1 strain of bird flu in samples taken from dead chickens in West Bengal. He said authorities could start slaughtering birds Tuesday to contain the outbreak.

Indian authorities are already culling hundreds of thousand of birds in the northeastern state of Assam, where health officials are monitoring at least 100 people who have started showing signs of the virus.

Assam's chief minister, Tarun Gogoi, told VOA last week that health workers have not yet confirmed a human case of the deadly H5N1 virus.

The virus was detected late last month in poultry near Assam's main city of Guwahati. Authorities have since slaughtered about 300,000 chickens and ducks in the state.

Veterinary officials have been dispatched to the state to supervise the slaughter process, but many farmers have been unwilling to hand over their birds. Local officials say the government will start offering them more money in compensation.

The sale and export of poultry products has been banned in Assam. Authorities say six people have been arrested for smuggling chickens from Guwahati.

The World Health Organization says bird flu has killed at least 245 people worldwide since it resurfaced in Asia five years ago, but no human cases have been reported in India.

Some information for this report was provided by AP and Reuters.

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