Bird flu outbreak forces poultry cull

Thousands of chickens have been culled in western Burma after health officials detected an outbreak of the H5N1, or ‘bird flu’, virus.

Government newspapers announced on 17 January the outbreak of “a Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza [HPAI] strain” of the virus and said that measures had been taken to curtail the spread, which also included a ban of the sale of chickens and eggs in Arakan state.

Around 10 farms close to Lathamar village in Arakan state have been affected, although one farmer told DVB that a one-kilometre radius had been placed around the village, within which all farms must be treated.

“Some of the farms there have around 2000 chickens and some around 1000,” said the farmer. “The chickens were killed and then buried in a six-foot deep hole in the ground. The farms were sprayed afterward.”

He added that other farmers nearby had begun vaccinating their poultry in anticipation of the virus spreading.

Around 60 percent of the Burmese population is dependent on agriculture as a primary source of income, although the majority of this is focused in the rice industry.

In February last year around 2500 chickens were culled in a Rangoon division township following an outbreak of H5N1. Dozens of people were also taken ill last year shortly after Burma confirmed its first case of the H1N1, or ‘swine flu’, virus.

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