Friday, February 15, 2013

Nepal: Bird Flu On The Rise; Farmers Resist Veterinarians #H5N1

KATHMANDU, Feb 16: With the growing incidence of bird flu in the Valley, vet officials and technicians have been encountering intense resistance and threats from poultry farmers, the Directorate of Animal Health (DoAH) said. Due to the resistance and threats from farmers, efforts to control the disease have becoming a serious challenge for the officials.

According to DoAH officials, poultry farmers have even stopped reporting the death of fowls to veterinary offices, which they said is a dangerous trend and a great threat to public health. 

The office said that strains of H5N1 virus have been spreading rapidly in the poultry farms of the Valley and adjoining districts. This week alone, the capital witnessed four outbreaks of the virus, in which over 12,000 chickens were culled. 

In the last one-and-half months, a seventh outbreak has occurred in the district. Rapid response teams comprising vets destroyed thousands of chickens in Dhading, Nuwakot, Bhaktapur and Lalitpur during this period.

"The disease has been spreading rapidly and we have been encountering more resistance from farmers," said Dr Narayan Prasad Ghimire, senior veterinarian at DoAH, adding, "They tried to dare the rapid response teams to destroy the infected chickens." 

The office had to seek the assistance of police to carry out disinfection in several farms. 

Ghimire, who is also spokesperson of DoAH, said that the trend of obstructing vet officials disinfecting the tainted farms is dangerous. 

"Had we not intervened on time, they (farmers) would sell all the ailing chickens in the market," he added. He said that due to the resistance of farmers, the office could not assure that all the chicken in the market is safe for consumption.

DoAH-deployed surveillance officers have been complaining that the farmers do not even let them enter their poultry farms for inspection."We cannot take the police to each and every farm for inspection," Dr Ghimire added. 

In recent outbreaks, several farmers have themselves dumped the dead chicken without informing veterinary officials. 

Veterinary doctors said that farmers are at high risk of contracting the disease. They urged the farmers to exercise high alert and inform vet officials if chickens start to die in huge numbers. Fowls avoiding feed, standing still with the head down and excreting saliva could be symptoms of infection by the H5N1 virus, vet officials said.

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