India: Kerala orders culling over bird flu fears

Dead ducks in Kerala Image copyright Other
Image caption Reports say 15,000 ducks have died in the tourist destination of Kuttanad

Authorities in the southern Indian state of Kerala have ordered culling of about 150,000 ducks and chickens after lab tests found bird flu strains in dead poultry.

The move came after 15,000 ducks died in the tourist destination of Kuttanad.

A ban has also been imposed on the sale of poultry products in and around the affected area, officials said.

The first outbreak of avian flu in India was in the western state of Maharashtra in 2006.

But so far no cases of human infection have been reported in the country.

Kerala Chief Minister Oommen Chandy held a high-level meeting on Tuesday to review the situation.

"It is estimated that around 150,000 domestic ducks and a few chickens are to be culled and burnt in the affected areas. The sale of duck meat and eggs has also been banned," the state's Animal Husbandry Minister KP Mohanan said after the meeting.

Mr Mohanan said the presence of the H5N1 virus had been confirmed in samples sent for lab tests, though there were no reports so far of the virus transmitted to humans.

Amid protests from farmers to the culling, Mr Chandy announced a compensation of 150 rupees ($2.4; £1.5) for each bird killed.

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