Bangladesh poultry farmers fret over fresh outbreak of bird flu

08:47, January 27, 2010      

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The detection of bird flu in two farms this month has once more threw Bangladesh farmers in panic as the avian influenza outbreak had dealth a hard blow to the country's poultry industry during the last few years.

Director General of Bangladesh's Fisheries and Live Stock Department, Habibur Rahman, told Xinhua Tuesday, "some 1,463 chickens were culled after detecting avian influenza in the two commercial farms in Joypurhat district on Jan. 6 and Jan. 24."

He said the department has already strengthened its surveillance to contain further spread of the infectious disease. "We've already sent two expert teams to that district for intense monitoring of the situation."

"The detection indicates that the virus is still active and may spread to other parts of the country," senior official of a poultry farm said but requested to be unnamed.

President of Bangladesh Poultry Industries Association (BPIA) Syed Abu Siddiqui said, "Over 350,000 poultry farmers including small, medium and large across the country are now afraid of the disease which frequently affected their businesses during the last few year."

"We've requested the government not to allow import of eggs and day old chicken from India as there is a massive hidden outbreak of the disease through out the year," he said.

Barely three months after India declared itself free from bird flu, the Center has notified a fresh outbreak of the highly pathogenic H5N1 strain of Avian Influenza in Murshidabad district of West Bengal state, said a report of India's national newspaper The Hindu Jan. 16.

It said the Centre informed the West Bengal government that the samples from affected poultry that were sent to the High Security Animal Disease Laboratory had tested positive for the H5N1 strain.

Following fresh outbreak of bird flu in neighboring West Bengal State of India, Live Stock Department director general Rahman said they have already taken all required measures to stem outbreak of the disease while cancelled leaves of his department officials and asked them to remain high on alert.

"We've asked for spraying of anti-virus drugs in the farms specially in northern Bangladeshi districts," he said while apprehended that there might have a havoc like situation due to bird flu outbreak in February.

The bird flu was first detected in Bangladesh in a poultry farm near capital Dhaka in March 2007. The situation deteriorated later on as the virus spread fast across the country which was reported in 47 districts between December 2007 and March 2008.

About 50 percent of the country's 150,000 poultry farms were closed and more than 1.5 million chickens, ducks and pigeons were culled as of the end of March, 2008 in which the BPIA estimated a loss of about 75 billion taka (about 1.07 billion U.S. dollars).

According to latest statistics of the government's bird flu control room, since March 2007 to till date over 1.98 million chickens were either died or culled due to infection with H5N1 virus.

"Some 1.70 million chickens were culled after detection of the bird flu until yesterday since March 2007," bird flu control room official Madan Gofal said Tuesday.

Most of the farms, which were worst victims of massive culling of chickens, according to sector insiders, are still struggling to return to business.

With the rise of temperature in March and April, director of the government's Influenza Preparedness and Response Project Nazrul Islam said risk factors of bird flu disease will continue to ease off in Bangladesh.

The first bird flu in human body in Bangladesh was detected on May 21, 2008. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention in the United States, diagnosed a 16-month-old Bangladesh child as being infected with H5N1 who later recovered.

Source: Xinhua
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