The third phase of culling operations targeting 3.1 lakh chickens in 354 villages in Jalgaon district began on Saturday even as the Government assured people that there was no cause for panic. District Collector Vijay Singhal said that the villages had been identified as being within a radius of 10 km as specified by the High Security Animal Diseases Laboratory in Bhopal.
This third phase is to last for five days and will be followed by clean-up operations. In the first two phases 3.35 lakh birds were culled in 452 villages, he said, adding that so far no human infections had been reported. However, as per the guidelines issued by the World Health Organization, health officials have quarantined villagers in a radius of three kilometres. About 400 police personnel were patrolling the periphery of the radius, Singhal said. The villagers have been discouraged from traveling or receiving visitors, while the culling team has been ordered to be isolated for a week. Even the vehicles that are being used by the cullers' will be disinfected. District authorities suspect that most of the chicken from Nandurbar had been shifted to Jalgoan clandestinely in order to avoid culling following an outbreak of bird flu there. Meanwhile, the Pune chapter of the Indian Medical Association has issued advertisements to calm down people who were avoiding eating chicken, thereby putting the poultry industry in jeopardy. The IMA adverts says that no one has ever been infected after eating cooked chicken or eggs since the H5N1 virus dies when heated to a temperature of 70 degree C.