Bird flu has spread to 29 districts: aide
Monday, 28 January 2008

Staff Correspondent

The avian influenza virus has spread to 48 upazilas in 29 districts and six metropolitan areas, said a government official at a press conference Sunday.

Manik Lal Samaddar, special assistant to the chief adviser in charge of the fisheries and livestock ministry, said estimates put the number of infected birds at over 325,000 in 93 poultry farms, all of which have now been culled.

The caretaker administration has set up a special ward at the Dhaka Chest Diseases Hospital to deal with potential cases in humans, as well as making provisions to treat the disease at the district level.

"So far, specimens from 803 individuals from 12 hospitals in the country have been sent to the laboratory for testing," said Samaddar.

"However, the presence of A-positive avian influenza virus was not found in the samples of any of the patients."

"The government has taken precautions to ensure the deadly virus is not spread to humans," said the special assistant.

The fisheries and livestock chief said added precautions had been taken about imported poultry and livestock from India in the wake of the spread of bird flu there.

Arrangements have been made to spray every vehicle with anti-viral disinfectant at 11 border crossings with India and at certain key points inside the country, said Samaddar.

"A 16-member team is working at the district level to detect and observe the disease," said the special assistant.

"They are collecting specimens as well as examining and culling infected birds or livestock. The health ministry is assisting the fisheries and livestock ministry in the job."

"In addition, 150 volunteers are being appointed under the Directorate of Livestock to prevent the spread of the disease. The [Food and Agriculture Organisation] will provide financial assistance to the directorate," Samaddar said.

Secretary to the fisheries and livestock ministry Ataur Rahman said 38 of the infected poultry farms are in seven districts of Dhaka Division.

A further 38 infected farms are in 13 districts in Rajshahi Division, seven in two districts in Khulna Division, two farms in two districts of Chittagong Division, eight in four districts of Barisal Division and one in Sylhet Division.

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