Nepal is confirming bird flu in poultry has
been detected for the first time in the Himalayan nation. This follows outbreaks
last month in Bangladesh and India.
Several Nepalese government
ministries confirm the first outbreak of the deadly H5N1 virus in birds in the
country. But they say they have no reports of the virus affecting humans.
The outbreak, which killed chickens and ducks, is at a farm in the
southern town of Kakarvitta, bordering the Indian state of West
An Indian consultant to the poultry industry, Amit Sachdev,
tells VOA that after recent bird flu outbreaks in West Bengal, Assam and
Bangladesh, it was inevitable Nepal would see its own cases.
porous borders. There is a huge movement of chicken, chicks and people in those
areas," he said. "So it does not just come as a surprise. It was bound to happen
and it has just happened."
India has culled millions of chickens and
ducks since its first outbreaks in 2006.
Following an emergency cabinet
meeting Friday in Kathmandu, Nepal's government ordered poultry slaughtered
within a three-kilometer radius of Kakarvitta, 480 kilometers east of the
Poultry expert Sachdev says the culling should be merely the
first counteraction Nepal takes.
"The second step would be cleaning that
whole area because the virus can remain in the feathers or in the dead birds and
on the feces," Sachdev explained. "We know that there could be some smuggling
around - that farmers who don't want their birds to be killed would take [them]
to other areas. But if those birds are infested or infected that would be a
Nepal banned poultry imports from India last year after
outbreaks of H5N1 here. But officials acknowledge chickens are still routinely
smuggled across the border.
Avian influenza is a major concern to health
experts. They worry the H5N1 strain could mutate or combine with the seasonal
human influenza virus, triggering a global pandemic killing millions of people.
The virus, according to the World Health Organization, has killed about 250
people since resurfacing six years ago in Asia.