FAO urges Bangla response to bird flu outbreak

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United Nations, May 22: The Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) has warned that the bird flu situation in Bangladesh remains serious and called for action to bring it under control.

'' In response to recent outbreaks, the government and veterinary authorities have applied immediate control and containment measures in affected areas,'' said Joseph Domenech, FAO's chief veterinary officer.

'' But there is an urgent need for vigorously stepping up and extending current H5N1 control campaigns in order to prevent the virus becoming widely entrenched,'' he added.

Since the first officially announced avian influenza outbreak in Bangladesh in February, the virus has spread to eleven out of 64 districts.

'' Bangladesh has already prepared a National Avian Influenza and Human Pandemic Preparedness Plan and an Emergency Operational Plan to meet the threat of bird flu and is implementing these plans to control the disease,'' Mr Domenech said. '' The situation remains of serious concern and will require further national engagement and coordinated international support.'' He said, according to information available here, Bangladesh had a ''real chance to get the virus under control, if it commits itself to a full-scale comprehensive national control campaign'' and pledged FAO help in this effort.

There have so far been at least 280 confirmed human cases worldwide, more than half of them fatal, the vast majority in Southeast Asia.

The so-called Spanish flu pandemic of 1918-1920, which also originated from birds, is estimated to have killed 20 million to 40 million people worldwide.


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