Indian state orders poultry cull after bird flu outbreak

By Jatindra Dash BHUBANESWAR, India (Reuters) - An eastern Indian state ordered the cull of more than 2,500 chickens and other poultry after four dead crows and three dead poultry tested positive for the highly pathogenic H5N1 virus, officials said on Tuesday. The bird flu virus was confirmed at Keranga village, about 35 km (22 miles) from Bhubaneswar, the capital of Odisha state, veterinary officials said, days after dozens of crows and chickens were found dead. More than 30,000 birds were culled in a similar outbreak in the region in 2012. "We have issued an advisory to follow immediate measures to complete culling operations, surveillance and sanitization in the infected area," Commissioner-cum-Secretary of the state's Fisheries and Animal Resources Development Department Bishnupada Sethi told Reuters. "Over 2,500 poultry birds are being culled within one kilometer of the epicenter for control and containment of bird flu. It's the first time in the current season that this type of bird flu was detected in the state and in the same area." The H5N1 strain is considered as highly pathogenic. It can also transmit to animals such as pigs, horse, large cats, dogs and occasionally humans. China reported two fatalities from H7N9 bird flu last week, its first fatalities among this winter's cases, stoking fears the virus could spread at a time when other Asian nations are battling to control outbreaks of the disease. South Korea and Japan have been scrambling to contain outbreaks of different strains of bird flu, with the poultry industry there bracing for heavy financial losses. The H5N1 strain is, however, less dangerous than the highly contagious H5N8 strain found in several European countries in the past few weeks. (Editing by Malini Menon and Nick Macfie)