Bird Flu :: Bird flu situation in Bangladesh serious – FAO

The United Nations food agency has said the bird flu situation in Bangladesh remains serious and sought a long-term strategic campaign to bring the deadly disease under control.

Hundreds of thousands of birds in Asia died due to a virus that has been dubbed the “bird flu.” The highly contagious illness is responsible for wiping out large numbers of poultry in Japan, South Korea, Taiwan and Vietnam. The particular strain of influenza which has been reported as causing the deaths is called H5N1. Humans can contract the disease through close contact with infected birds, or with the feces of infected birds. It is not known to spread through human-to-human contact.

“Bangladesh will have to engage in a long-term strategic campaign against highly pathogenic avian influenza in order to get the spreading H5N1 virus under control,” the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) said.

The first officially announced avian influenza outbreak in Bangladesh occurred in February 2007; since then the virus has spread to eleven out of 64 districts, it reported. Bangladesh is the second country in South Asia to be affected by the H5N1 virus this year.

“In response to recent outbreaks, the government and veterinary authorities have applied immediate control and containment measures in affected areas,” said Joseph Domenech, FAO’s Chief Veterinary Officer.

Noting that Bangladesh has already prepared a National Avian Influenza and Human Pandemic Preparedness Plan and an Emergency Operational Plan to meet the threat of bird flu, Domenech asserted that there is an urgent need for vigorously stepping up and extending current H5N1 control campaigns t o prevent the virus becoming widely entrenched.

“The situation remains of serious concern and will require further national engagement and coordinated international support,” he said “Bangladesh has a real chance to get the virus under control, if it commits itself to a full-scale comprehensive national control campaign. FAO is ready to continue its assistance and further international aid will be essential to support the country in this huge challenge,” Domenech said.

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