There has been an outbreak of bird flu for the first time in the country today. The deadly H5N1 strain of virus has been detected at Kakarbhitta, which shares a border with West Bengal in India, in Jhapa district.

An emergency cabinet today meeting declared the affected zone 'bird flu crisis-hit area'.

"No bird flu symptoms in human have been detected till now. But we are planning to monitor the health of the people in the affected area. Preliminary estimates suggest that the virus will be eliminated within a month," said Tek Bahadur Thapa, secretary, Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives (MoAC).

The government has decided to cull 13,000 chickens and birds in a radius of three-km area over the next five days. The government has also promised to give compensation to the poultry owners.

A blanket ban has also been imposed on rearing and consuming poultry products in the affected area for the next three months. Health and surveillance teams from the capital are being dispatched to tackle the crisis.

"The Rapid Response personnel are coming from Kathmandu. The affected area has a local and broiler chicken population of 2,000 and 10,000, respectively," said Dr Dilip Sapkota, chief, District Livestock Services Office.

Seven samples were sent for test to OIE Reference Laboratory, Weybridge, UK, on January 11. The results proved to be positive today.

Initially, the test was conducted at the Laboratory of Department of Livestock Services, Tripureshwor, on January 7.

Mysterious death of 11 chickens, which belonged to Ramesh Karki, a resident of Mechinagar Municipality, triggered panic. Subsequent, samples were sent for testing.

"The government is yet to figure out the source of the virus. We will urge the Indian government to help stop the import of poultry products," said Dr Prabhakar Pathak, director general, Department of Livestock Services.

Nepal has banned import of poultry products from India on January 5 after the outbreak of the disease was reported at Matigara in neighbouring Darjeeling district. It is about 36 km from Kakarbhitta.

According to Thapa, the poultry industry accounts for four per cent Gross Domestic Product. Around 65,000 people are associated with the trade.