First bird flu death in 5 years

Bangladesh on Sunday confirmed its first bird flu-related death in five years after the H5N1 human infection was detected in the country.

Published : 7 April 2013, 06:02 AM
Updated : 7 April 2013, 06:03 AM

The government’s disease monitoring arm, Institute of Epidemiology, Disease Control and Research (IEDCR) disclosed the death after it could ‘reconfirm’ the victim’s sample as testing ‘positive’ at the US Centre for Disease Control and Prevention.

The victim was a child under two years of age from Commilla’s Chauddogram who bore ‘no symptom’ of avian influenza or bird flu virus infection.
IEDCR found ‘a strong link with the backyard poultry deaths.’
“We tested his nasal swab and blood drawing from one of our routine surveillance sites,” Director Prof Mahmudur Rahman told
IEDCR enrolled the child in its ‘routine study’ on Feb 12, the day when he was admitted to the Comilla Medical College Hospital and his samples tested positive on Feb 16.
The boy was transferred to Dhaka Shishu Hospital and finally a private clinic. He declared dead on Feb 18 of ‘diagnosed meningitis’.
As the child had no symptoms, the director said, they sent their samples to the World Health Organisation’s reference laboratory US CDC for ‘further confirmation.’
“We received the result on Saturday,” the Director said.
It was the seventh human infections of avian influenza in Bangladesh where thousands of poultry birds were culled due to bird flu infections.
“Backyard poultry is one of the major sources of transmitting the virus in Bangladesh,” said IEDCR’s Chief Scientific Officer Dr M Mushtuq Husain.
“In villages even people keep chickens beneath their sleeping cots fearing thieves,” he said, “Children touch eggs and chickens. They do not wash their hands.”
He said in this case “may be the fever was so mild that parents did not take serious notice.”
He, however, said they did not find any cases ‘among the contacts of the child.’
With a large number of people living in rundown houses with poor hygiene and sanitation, Bangladesh is considered a hotspot for infectious diseases.
Four flu viruses –H1N1, H5N1, H3N2 and H9N2— are circulating in Bangladesh that scientists say can be ‘devastating’, once they assert themselves.
Globally avian influenza is highly fatal, but in Bangladesh the circulating strain is ‘mild’.
Since 2007 clade 2.2 was circulating in Bangladesh, but it was changed more than a year ago. The present clade is
IEDCR suggests people consume well-cooked poultry products and maintain bio-security in farms.
It advises doctors to take the history of exposure to sick poultry while seeing patients with respiratory illness.
Maintaining bio-security in poultry farms is the key to stave off the avian influenza that also brings colossal damage to the poultry industry with each strike, expert say.
The world's first outbreak of bird flu among humans occurred in Hong Kong in 1997, when it claimed six lives. That outbreak was linked to chickens and classified as H5N1.
Bangladesh notified its first infection on May 22, 2008.