Hit By Bird Flu, Duck Farmers In Kerala Worry About Their Livelihood

Kuttappan, a duck farmer who has lost hundreds of his ducks in the last few days due to bird flu.

Alappuzha, Kerala: Ducks wading through fields of paddy are a common sight in Kerala's Alappuzha. But it's a tough time for many, like 50-year-old Kuttappan, a duck farmer who has lost hundreds of his ducks in the last few days due to bird flu.

Making things worse for Kuttappan, the local duck breeders are blaming him for bird flu because this year too, the farmer, like last year, raised the bird flu alarm by asking officials to test samples, which eventually confirmed the H5N8 strain of bird flu.

"Everyone calls me the bird flu man just because I was the first one to call authorities. It's not fair," says Kuttapan.

"It's tough for me to even put an estimate to how many ducks have I lost but we still don't know anything about compensation. I have lost hundreds in last few days already," he adds.

H5N8 strain does not affect human beings but will hit the livelihood of several duck breeders - very common in Alappuzha.

The district administration has set up 20 quick response teams spread across the district, which are ensuring the isolation of the affected ducks and overseeing the culling. Last year lakhs of ducks were culled in Alappuzha after being infected with H5N1.

"The severity will be contained this time in comparison to last year. There is no need to panic. Government will be given an estimate of loss and affected farmers for possible compensation," District Collector Veena N Madhavan told NDTV.

For now, breeders are hoping, their worst fears won't come true.
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