Wednesday, January 23, 2008

India: Overwhelmed labs and a plan to expand

As H5N1 engulfs half of West Bengal, the nation's only lab testing samples of suspected H5N1 has been overwhelmed, receiving hundreds of samples from dead birds each week.

"'It has been decided to build several new laboratories especially in view of the bird flu situation now," Santanu Kumar Bandyopadhyay, India's animal husbandry commissioner told Reuters late on Tuesday.'

"To begin with, at least six laboratories are being built which will be of biosafety level-3 (BSL-3), or clinical and diagnostic facilities that work with potentially lethal agents."

It is not immediatley clear when these new labs will be operational.

H5N1 continues to spread in West Bengal state as veterinary workers are joined by other volunteers in the area to begin culling infected flocks. Nine of West Bengal's 19 districts are now reporting H5N1 among flocks. Culling targets, previously set at 2 million, are likely to be raised. At the moment, the daily goal would have 600 teams culling 300,000 birds each day.

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