DHAKA (Reuters) – Bird flu has killed nearly 500 chickens at a poultry farm in northeastern Bangladesh in what officials said on Sunday was the first outbreak of the disease in that area.
The farm is in Moulavibazar district, about 250 km from the capital, said Salehuddin Khan, director of the government’s livestock department.
“After the confirmation of bird flu, authorities culled nearly 800 chickens, ducks and birds in a one-kilometer area around the affected farm,” he said.
The H5N1 avian flu virus was first reported near the capital in March last year and has since spread mainly to northern districts, forcing authorities to kill more than 300,000 chickens.With the latest outbreak, 71 farms in 22 of Bangladesh’s 64 districts have been infected with the deadly virus.
There are around 150,000 poultry farms in Bangladesh, with an annual turnover of $750 million, officials say.
About 4 million Bangladeshis are directly or indirectly associated with poultry farming, but so far there have been no cases of human infection in the densely populated country, government officials say.
Experts fear the bird flu virus might mutate or combine with the highly contagious seasonal influenza virus and spark a pandemic that could kill millions of people.
Source: The Commercial Times