Bangladesh reports first bird flu death


A two-year old baby from eastern Bangladesh has died of H5N1 virus, the first bird flu death in the South Asian country, a senior health official said Monday.

Head of the country’s Institute of Epidemiology, Disease Control and Research (IEDCR) under the Health Ministry Mahmudur Rahman told Xinhua Monday that “the seventh case of Influenza A (H5N1) has been confirmed from one of our surveillance sites in Comilla, some 96 km east of capital Dhaka.”

He said this was a 1 year 11 months old male child from Chauddogram sub-district of Comilla. The child was admitted to Comilla Medical College Hospital, later transferred to Dhaka Shishu Hospital and then to a private clinic, Rahman said.

“The child died on Feb. 18, 2013,” he said. “This is the first death case of H5N1 in Bangladesh. As this child had no typical features of Influenza Like Illness (ILI), throat and nasal samples were sent for reconfirmation to CDC Atlanta, USA (WHO reference laboratory) and received confirmation on 6th April 2013,” he added.

According to the official, detailed outbreak investigation was conducted. There was strong epidemiological link with backyard poultry deaths. No other case was found among contacts during the investigation, he said.

Bangladeshi authorities in December last year destroyed 150,000 birds and 300,000 eggs as the season’s major outbreak of bird flu was detected in a firm in Gazipur, outskirts of capital Dhaka.

According to officials, risky factors of bird flu disease usually rise with the fall in temperature during January and February in Bangladesh.

The South Asian country is considered a high-risk nation with respect to Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) as the impoverished state of over about 153 million people is especially vulnerable to virus perpetuation because of insufficient biosecurity, rearing of chickens and ducks together, selling of live birds and deficient disease surveillance.

Bangladesh’s poultry farmers during winter season in 2009 and 2010 had suffered some extent from the outbreak of the disease.

The disease was first detected in Bangladesh in a poultry farm near capital Dhaka in March 2007. The situation deteriorated later on as the virus spread fast across the country which was reported in 47 districts between December 2007 and March 2008.

The first bird flu in human body in Bangladesh was detected on May 21, 2008. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention in the United States diagnosed a 16-month-old Bangladesh child as being infected with H5N1, who later recovered.