Bangladesh still at stake of bird flu outbreak: WB

13:11, April 05, 2010      

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The avian flu situation in Bangladesh has remained stable with significantly less outbreaks reported during 2009 and 2010, the World Bank said Sunday.

But, the bank said, "Bangladesh still faces the risks of further outbreak as it is probable that the virus exists in dormancy in the country, as 50 percent of its national poultry flock is backyard poultry."

The South Asian country has a large duck population (about 39 million) and is visited annually by about 21 species of migratory birds that can carry the virus, it said, adding "these coupled with the fact that Bangladesh has a high population density, contributes to building up the threat of future avian influenza outbreaks."

The World Bank expressed its concern in a statement dispatched to Xinhua on Sunday, which comes after Bangladesh's authorities last month divulged that they have culled about 154,245 chickens so far this year following fresh outbreak of bird flu.

Of the total, according to the government's disease-control office, some 117,000 chickens of a commercial farm in the country' s northwestern Thakurgaon district were culled in the first week of March after detection of bird flu.

According to the WB, the Bangladeshi government has initiated the "Avian Influenza Preparedness and Response Project (AIPRP)", co-financed by the bank and Avian and Human Influenza Trust Fund, since October 2007 to address the threat posed by the virus to humans.

The project is aligned with the government's National Avian and Pandemic Influence Preparedness and Response Plan, which identifies priorities and reflects what needs to be done to contain and control the disease, it said.

While the AIPRP is focusing on animal health-related activities, the ongoing World Bank-supported "Health, Nutrition and Population Support Program" under the Ministry of Health is financing avian influenza activities related to human health.

The first human infection of bird flu 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 strain of flu virus. The girl recovered later.

To ensure the achievement of the project outcomes, however, the statement said the WB has urged the Bangladeshi government to accelerate its project implementation pace.

It has been suggested that a contract be signed with the FAO or Food and Agriculture Organization to have technical and other supports for brining pace in implementation.

According to the WB, uninterrupted continuation of the ongoing surveillance activities in 260 sub-districts, and carrying out a co-ordinated training program for various stakeholders also remains top priorities at this phase of the project implementation to contain the outbreak of the virus.

The virus H5N1 was first detected in Bangladesh in a poultry farm near capital Dhaka in March 2007. The situation deteriorated later as the virus spread fast across the country with cases 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 Bangladesh Poultry Industries Association estimated a loss of about 75 billion taka ( about 1.07 billion U.S. dollars).

Source: Xinhua


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