Page last updated at 10:37 GMT, Tuesday, 20 January 2009

Nepal bird flu sparks mass cull

By Charles Haviland
BBC News, Kathmandu

Bird cull in Kakarvitta, Nepal.
Rapid response teams are trying to control the outbreak

Some 12,000 chickens and ducks have been slaughtered in farms in south-eastern Nepal after an outbreak of bird flu was discovered there on Friday.

The sale and consumption of poultry has been badly hit since the outbreak, the country's first of the H5N1 strain.

Thirteen small rapid response teams, each including a doctor, have been pressed into action in Jhapa, in the country's south-eastern corner.

India has confirmed an outbreak in its neighbouring Sikkim state.

Awareness campaign

The response teams in Nepal are working to cull birds and destroy chicken feed and eggs, too.


There is a sense of nervousness in the Jhapa district, which borders India on two sides.

Chicken has completely disappeared from the meat shops and reports say people have virtually stopped consuming it.

All 26 of the districts bordering India have been placed on a state of high alert.

So far the bird flu virus has not been found further west, but in the western area of Lumbini local reports say people are scared and that poultry sales have dropped by 35%.

In Jhapa all cross-border trade in chickens has been halted but people elsewhere are demanding the same measure.

No symptoms have been detected in people but newspapers have helped launch awareness campaigns on the human form of the illness.

Meanwhile the Indian government confirmed there had been an outbreak in the north-eastern state of Sikkim.

One report said 33 birds had died. The health ministry has airlifted protective equipment and sent a rapid response team.

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