Kerala to begin culling ducks to contain bird flu

Kerala to begin culling ducks to contain bird flu

In the backdrop of bird flu outbreaks, the Kerala government on Tuesday decided to cull ducks in the Kuttanad region as part of contingency plans, prompting poultry farmers in the area to launch protests.

According to conservative estimates, about 1.5 lakh ducks will be culled in avian influenza-hit places, including Purakkad, Thalavady and Kainakary in Alappuzha district and Aymanam in Kottayam.

The government has banned sale and transport of poultry products within a 10 kilometre radius from flu-affected areas in Alappuzha, Kottayam and Pathanamthitta districts.
There were also cases of bird flu among chickens at a poultry farm in the Kumarakom of Kottayam district. The bird sanctuary at Kumarakom has been closed temporarily and entry restrictions have been put in place at the Thiruvananthapuram zoo.

The government has announced monetary compensation for poultry farmers whose birds will be culled. “Ducks and chicken younger than two months will be compensated with Rs 75 each while the compensation for the rest has been fixed at Rs 150 each,” Animal Husbandry Minister K P Mohanan said on Tuesday after a high-level meeting chaired by Chief Minister Oommen Chandy.

A National Centre for Disease Control team is set to visit affected regions to assess the situation. A team from the Indian Medical Association has already visited the flu-hit regions.

The Health Department is ensuring that there are adequate preventive medicines and protective gear ahead of the culling, Health Minister V S Sivakumar said. Ministers will coordinate preventive drives initiated in the three affected districts.

About 15,000 ducks had died over a week in Kuttanad, which were traced on Monday to the H5- factor avian influenza virus after tests were conducted at the National Institute of High Risk Animal Diseases in Bhopal.

Duck-rearing farmers in Alappuzha district on Tuesday came out to protest the move to cull birds, with some contending that the government took the decision unilaterally and the compensation was insufficient.

 These farmers are in for a dull Christmas, a traditionally strong season for poultry sale.
DH News Service

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