Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Bangladesh authority to nip bird flu in the bud, urge not to panic

SALEEM SAMAD

BANGLADESH HOSTING the 2011 International Cricket Council (ICC) tenth Cricket World Cup is troubled with the discovery of third avian influenza human case, but urge not to panic.

In the Bangladesh capital's crowded Kamlapur slum, not far from where the extravaganza opening ceremony of the world cup was held, the third child, a 31-month-old boy had been detected carrying the virus.

The government assured the ICC organizers that the bird flu is under control. Incidentally no travel warning has been issued by international health agencies.

Two days early, a 13-month girl was the first human case this year infected by bird flu or Avian flu was detected. The girl and the boy are stable and epidemiologists assured that they will recover.

Despite limitation of manpower the Institute of Epidemiology Disease Control and Research (IEDCR) begun an extensive mopping up the area, where the country's first avian flu has been detected.

So far, three people have been detected infected with the bird flu virus since its first outbreak in March 2007 in poultry.

IEDCR currently maintains virus surveillance at 28 spots, including 26 hospitals across Bangladesh with the help of US Centre for Disease Control.

Director of IEDCR Prof Mahmudur Rahman told online news agency bdnews24.com that the institute has launched extensive search operation, as there might be more unreported cases in the community. They are busy in ascertaining the source of infection the baby.

The first human infection in the country was detected on May 22, 2008. Also in the capital, it was a 15-month-old boy who fully recovered after treatment at the IEDCR. It was understood that the child’s mother slaughtered an infected chicken and cuddled with unwashed hands.

"Maintaining bio-security in poultry farms and personal hygiene can keep the virus away." Prof Rahman assured that the virus had the potential to cause severe illness in humans with a high fatality rate.

"The strain (clade 2.2) of H5N1, also known as bird flu, which circulates in Bangladesh, is less virulent, so it causes less infection to humans," he said, adding it could change into another class (2.1), which was highly infectious to human.

Dr. Mat Yamage, Bangladesh country chief of the avian influenza unit of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), told bdnews24.com that people should be careful in this situation. "It's a public health concern."

He said the practice of marketing live birds might pose a considerable risk to the people in the areas where poultries, especially where currently experiencing avian influenza outbreak.

Thousands of chickens and eggs, under the supervision local administration are being destroyed in different places in the country.

Livestock experts say maintaining bio-security in poultry farms is the key to stave off the avian influenza that "also brings colossal damage to the poultry industry with each strike".

The world's first outbreak of bird flu among humans occurred in Hong Kong in 1997. So far it killed 315 people out of 533 infected in 15 countries and most of these cases have been linked to close contact with infected poultry or their secretions. [ENDS]

With reports from Bdnews24.com, Daily Star and Wikipedia