Bird flu watch mounts, US moves to help
Wednesday, 30 January 2008

Agency

Livestock and veterinary officials on Monday tightened vigilance to check the spread of bird flu virus in some of the worst-hit districts bordering India amid an international response to the government’s effort to fight the virus.

Authorities also continued to cull chickens across the country as soon as they track down any new find. The local authorities have moved to consult with farm owners and workers, informing them about the dangers of the spread of virus and protective measures.

According to the latest bulletin by the ministry of fisheries and livestock, the H5N1 strain of virus has spread to 29 districts. Districts that border the Indian state of West Bengal have been put on the highest alert. Livestock official Rafikul Islam said they requested the police to tighten watch.

The Bangladesh Rifles in Chapainawabganj has tightened vigilance along an 87-kilometre border with Indian districts of Murshidabad and Mal Dah. BDR-39 battalion operation officer Captain Syed Abul Hasan said they had tightened their vigilance along the border as the two Indian districts are the hard-hit by the virus.

Meanwhile, the United States has donated 10,000 sets of personal safety equipment against bird flu, a statement of the US embassy said on Monday. The department of livestock under the fisheries and livestock ministry received the equipment from the US embassy officials on Sunday.

Each of the set consists of coveralls, shoe covers, a respirator, goggles, an apron, and inner and outer gloves, the statement said. The equipment will be given to the government’s livestock officials responsible for culling flocks and collecting samples of H5N1 virus, it said.

The US mission in Dhaka has worked closely with partners and the government in prevention and control of avian influenza over the past year. The US has given supports such as training of the officials on testing and disposal of infected poultry.

Prior to this shipment of the latest equipment, the US had supplied other 6,500 preventive kits, 20 decontamination kits, and 4,000 rapid antigen kits to the livestock ministry, it said.

‘The American Mission will continue to collaborate on avian influenza initiatives as well as to provide ongoing support for the reconstruction efforts after cyclone Sidr,’ it said.

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