I had heard about this earlier this month from one of my friends who is engaged in a Bird Flu communication project. The earlier signs of an unknown disease surfaced in late February 2007 in Biman Poultry Complex at Savar. The President of the poultry Breeders’ Association of Bangladesh says:
From the clinical symptoms the government suspected that it could be bird flu, and accordingly 30,000 birds were destroyed by March 6, 2007. At 11 am yesterday, samples sent earlier to Thailand confirmed the presence of the H5N1. Within hours, as per OIE protocol, a perimeter with a 10-km radius with Biman Poultry at the centre was drawn up. There might be further culling as a precautionary measure; and a total restriction on poultry movement outside the perimeter has been imposed.
The early signs are that Bangladesh is managing things well. So far the reaction of the government has been swift and efficient. Also, FAO, WHO, etc are involved in managing this problem. Finally, the poultry associations have also called for total transparency and efficiency in implementing international protocols relating to an outbreak.
The news is out now. Drishtipat blog has some facts and suggestions for consumers.
We should be concerned, but not freak out. The H5N1 strain of bird flu had been detected in birds only, not humans in Bangladesh.
A global influenza pandemic (worldwide spread) may ONLY occur if three conditions are met:
• A new subtype of influenza A virus is introduced into the human population.
• The virus causes serious illness in humans.
• The virus can spread easily from person to person in a sustained manner.
Although the conditions haven’t occured yet, it is advisable to stay away from sick looking poultry unless confirmed that it has not been infected with any form of the flu virus.
The risk is to farmers but not consumers. Suggestions for consumers:
Just use common sense. Don’t buy sick looking chickens. Cook the meat in the usual way. Don’t eat raw eggs. And if you are one of those who fret that the probability of getting hit by lightning is unacceptably high, then don’t have eggs sunny side up.
Bangladesh had already banned imports of live birds from more than 50 countries including neighboring India and Myanmar after outbreaks were detected there.