You hear the term cull in almost all news reports concerning new outbreaks of the bird flu. For instance, in Malaysia a new outbreak was discovered in a village near Kuala Lumpur. In response to this the country has taken bold action.
Kamaruddin Mohamed Isa, who heads the disease control, said:
When we sent our boys, we found bird flu in two village chickens but people said 60 chickens had died earlier.
We will cull all chickens and impose a 10 km (6-mile) quarantine area and the police will put a road block around this area.
There is the word cull again. So, what does it mean to cull a population of chickens?
In other situations you can cull a herd or group of animals by selling the ones you don’t want, relocating or giving them away. The idea is that when you limit the numbers you increase the chances of survival and increasing the strength of the breeding stock.
In this case, though, it means you kill all the chickens. With the threat of bird flu escaping and becoming an epidimic, you cannot be sure that every chicken is clean. The best decision is to eliminate all the chickens, so there is no chance the disease can continue to spread.
Culling is a controversial step at times, but when you are faced with an increase chance of spreading a killer virus, you have no other choice.