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2008 H5N1 outbreak in West Bengal

The 2008 bird flu outbreak in West Bengal is an occurrence of avian influenza in West Bengal, India that began on January 16, 2008. The infection was caused by the H5N1 subtype of the Influenza A virus and occurred in at least thirteen districts, including Birbhum, Nadia, Murshidabad, Burdwan, Hooghly, Cooch Behar, Malda, Bankura, Purulia, Howrah, West Midnapore, South 24 Parganas and South Dinajpur and several new inclusion are reported daily. A range of precautions has been instituted including a large cull of chickens, eggs, and poultry birds, the imposition of segregation zones, and a disinfection programme for the plant. The government has put a blanket ban on the movement of poultry birds from West Bengal.


Immediate causes are not determined, but a high poultry density followed by a moist cold climate has led to the quick spread of the virus. With the highest population density in India, West Bengal has a high risk of the deadly virus spreading to humans. As per other accounts, bird flu has spread to half of the state due to delayed action, bad planning and mismanagement by Government of West Bengal. In many villages, people led by ruling party leaders resisted culling operations.[1]. Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar had slammed the Communist Party of India (Marxist) government for not reporting the bird flu epidemic early on.[2] Shortage of staff for culling operation is one of the other reasons.


At least eleven districts of West Bengal, including Birbhum, Nadia, Murshidabad, Burdwan, Hooghly, Cooch Behar, Malda, Bankura, Purulia, Howrah, West Midnapore, South 24 Parganas and South Dinajpur are affected by bird flu.

Timeline of Spread
District Date of Confirmation
Birbhum January 16
South Dinajpur January 16
Murshidabad January 17
Burdwan January 19
Nadia January 19
Bankura January 20
Malda January 21
Cooch Behar January 23
Hooghly January 23
Howrah January 24
Purulia January 24
West Midnapore January 27
South 24 Paraganas January 27
Darjeeling May 10


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