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8 more poultry farms in Nepal infected with H5N1 virus
Publication Date : 09-08-2013
As many as 25,000 chickens in eight poultry farms in Kathmandu Valley were found on Thursday to be infected with the H5N1 virus.
The "rapid response team" sent out by the authorities to curb the spread of the virus had failed to slaughter all the chickens, despite an entire day’s effort.
Since the first outbreak of the virus in Chabahil and Matatirtha in Kathmandu district on July 16, another 17 farms were found to be infected in Kathmandu. The virus also spread to 32 farms in Bhaktapur district and 3 in Lalitpur, bringing the total number of infected farms to 52.
Matatirtha's department of livestock services deputy director Ram Kumar Khatiwada said that the department was working closely with health officials to ensure that no humans were infected with the virus.
He said that although the outbreak in the Kathmandu Valley has taken epidemic proportions, the authorities were successful in controlling the spread of the virus to other parts of the country with the week-long poultry ban in Kathmandu.
He said that farmer are not allowed to bring chickens to the market until government officials confirm that they are healthy.
“Our teams will be visiting all the poultry farms in the Kathmandu valley and testing the chickens for infection,” Khatiwada said.
Public health experts have been saying that the government’s “negligence” could lead to a serious public health crisis in the country.
“Our surveillance mechanism is weak and despite the government’s assurances, it is hard to say if the meat the public is consuming is safe,” said Dr Sarad Onta, a public health expert.
Meanwhile, a Forum for Protection of Consumer Rights-Nepal spokesperson commented that the Nepalese government is "more focused on appeasing businessmen rather than being concerned about public health".
In a statement, the forum urged all agencies concerned, including the Ministry of Health and Population, the Ministry of Home Affairs and the National Human Rights Commission, to play an active role in stopping infected chickens from being sold in the markets.