Bangladesh bird flu situation alarming, says official

Haroon Habib

DHAKA: Bangladesh plans to start door-to-door surveillance soon to check further spread of the bird flu which has reportedly taken an alarming turn.

A high ranking government official told the media that the government has alerted the Bangladesh Rifles (BDR) and other agencies to prevent possible smuggling of poultry into the country from West Bengal which has been fighting the bird flu crisis for the past several weeks.

Manik Lal Samaddar, special assistant to the Chief Adviser in charge of the Fisheries and Livestock Ministry, said at a press conference on Sunday the avian influenza virus has spread to 48 upazilas in 29 districts and six metropolitan areas. Estimates put the number of infected birds at over 3,25,000 in 93 poultry farms, all of which have now been culled.

Local officials quoted by media said over 10,000 birds were slaughtered in north and south Bangladesh on Saturday as part of a continuing operation to contain the deadly virus.

Agriculture and science adviser C. S. Karim described the situation as “alarming” and said hundreds of crows and other birds were dying everyday across the country due to bird flu. He also said that farmers in some villages were throwing away dead chickens in canals and ponds, thus spreading the disease.

The Food and Agriculture Organisation of the U.N. said recently that Bangladesh needed house-to-house surveillance to fight the spread of bird flu because the situation had worsened and was “posing a danger to public health.”

Bangladesh had its first bird flu outbreak in February last year.

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