Govt. has launched a nationwide bird flu prevention campaign
Tuesday, 29 January 2008

Staff Correspondent

Nearly 1.5 lakh public and private poultry farms of the country will come under official surveillance as the government has launched a nationwide bird flu prevention campaign. ‘The government already has enforced a countrywide poultry farms inspection programme involving all field level livestock officials and Ansar and VDP,’ said Manik Lal Samaddar, special assistant to the chief adviser.

Bangladesh Rifles has been put on alert to check smuggling of any kind of poultry products into the country from neighbouring Indian districts which are fighting a worse bird flu pandemic, Manik, who is in charge of the fisheries and livestock ministry, said at a press briefing in Dhaka Sunday.

Squads of veterinarians and animal health workers have been deployed at eleven border points for anti-viral drug sprays and their services will be made available for farms, which are already affected or exposed to attacks, the special assistant said. Anti-viral drugs are also being given to farm owners and employees, who come in close contacts with farm birds. The recent bird flu outbreak in neighbouring Indian state of West Bengal that put the authorities there on a ‘war footing’ rang fresh alarm bell for Bangladesh’s poultry industry.

Fresh detections of avian influenza and concerns expressed by Food and Agricultural Organisation alerted the government to the possible outbreak at a time when the country’s poultry sector was recovering from last year’s shocks. The latest culling of 751 household and commercial poultry birds in Rupganj of Narayanaganj district on January 22 took the number of farm birds culled to 3,16,577 since the disease was first detected in February last year. Massive culling of birds took place in 29 districts out of 64 in less than a year. Though farmers were partially compensated for the losses, most of them could not yet start the business.

Regarding compensation for bird flu affected farms, the special assistant informed that the government was committed to recompense the affected farmers and help them survive the shock. Livestock secretary Syed Ataur Rahman said the bird flu situation was still not alarming in Bangladesh compared to that of West Bengal. The disease was detected so far in only 93 poultry farms out of the country’s nearly 1.50 lakh farms with over 22 crores of birds.

The government emphasised the need for raising public awareness about safe dumping and management of poultry waste at the wet market places and also in the household. To prevent the spread of bird flu disease into humans, public health officials have been ordered to conduct laboratory test of suspected cases, health officials said. The Institute of Epidemiology, Disease Control and Research already has received some 803 blood samples from twelve different hospitals of the country. But no positive case or H5 strain of virus was detected so far, IEDCR director Mahmudur Rahman told the briefing. The government also has arranged isolation camps in affected districts for special treatment if any positive human cases are found, the health official said.

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