More bird flu cases in Pakistan and Bangladesh

According to a government official in Pakistan new bird flu cases have been discovered on at least five commercial poultry farms in the southern province of Sindh and in the North West Frontier Province (NWFP).

Mohammad Afzal, the Commissioner for Livestock at the Ministry of Food and Agriculture, says traces of the deadly H5N1 virus were found in small poultry farms in the two areas and as a result all the birds at the farms have been culled and the area disinfected.

In total some 350 birds have been culled but it is unclear how many H5N1 cases of bird flu were discovered but quarantine and vaccination measures are being implemented around the affected farms.

Tests on workers at the farms have been conducted and all appear to be healthy and show no signs of bird flu says Afzal.

Pakistan discovered its first H5N1 strain of the virus in February last year in NWFP and subsequently culled about 40,000 birds.

In February authorities temporarily closed Islamabad Zoo following the deaths of four peacocks and a goose from the H5N1 strain of the virus.

Outbreaks of the lethal virus have swept from Asia to Britain since late last year, as well as touching Egypt and Nigeria and authorities in Bangladesh are also battling with the virus after an outbreak of bird flu was confirmed at a new farm near the capital Dhaka where as many as 3,000 chickens have been culled.

Officials say the farm is in the area of Savar, where the H5N1 virus was first detected in six farms in March.

Hundreds of veterinary and health officials have been mobilised and a 10 sq km quarantine imposed around the affected farms to stop the spread of the virus.

Since the outbreak last month some 75,000 chickens have been culled on 27 farms and more than 500 workers at the infected farms have been given a local version of the Tamiflu anti-viral drug Oseflu as a precaution, say Health Ministry officials.

To date no humans have tested positive for the disease in the densely populated country.

Bangladesh apparently has sufficient quantities of Oseflu which is locally produced and marketed.

There are as many as 125,000 poultry firms producing 250 million broilers and 6 billion eggs annually and around four million Bangladeshis are directly or indirectly associated with poultry farming.

The H5N1 virus has killed at least 170 people around the globe since it reappeared in 2003 and the ongoing concern is that the virus will at some stage mutate into a form that could pass easily between people and cause a pandemic.

At present almost all those who have been stricken were in close contact with infected birds.


The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of News Medical.
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