Monday, September 19, 2011

U.S. to help Bangladesh combat bird flu

SALEEM SAMAD

Bangladesh accepted United States offer to combat bird flu virus epidemic and develop 'seed virus,' a key ingredient to make a vaccine in emergency.

Bangladesh will share a new strain of bird flu virus with U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (US CDC) to develop ‘seed virus’ for scientific use, confirmed health secretary Muhammad Humayun Kabir on Sunday.

Bird flu, also known as Avian influenza virus H5N1often causes pandemic threat in the Asian region, including Bangladesh, China, India, Indonesia and Vietnam.

United Nations body FAO in August said the contagious Avian flu, still remains firmly entrenched in Bangladesh because of unhygienic trade practices. The UN body warned possible major resurgence of bird flu as it observed a mutant strain of the H5N1 virus is spreading in Asia.

The US CDC approached health authorities in the first week of September for government authorization to use the virus.

The strain was found in humans in last March and detected by the Institute of Epidemiology Disease Control and Research (IEDCR), but mild in nature from its countrywide surveillance. This was recently confirmed by US CDC recently.

Bangladesh experienced 524 recorded Avian flu outbreaks and the Livestock Department culled over 2.4 million chickens across the country after the first outbreak in Mar. 22, 2007.

According to World Health Organization, the factors responsible for the entrenchment of the virus are complex production and market chains. Eliminating the highly pathogenic Avian influenza virus from poultry in the Asian countries will take 10 or more years, it cautioned.

Saleem Samad, an Ashoka Fellow is an award winning investigative journalist based in Bangladesh. He specializes in Jihad, forced migration, good governance and elective democracy. He has recently returned from exile after living in Canada for six years. He could be reached at saleemsamad@hotmail.com