Bangladesh bans 'bird flu' products

The Bangladeshi Government has banned the import of chicks from countries affected by bird flu, while a mystery disease sweeps the provinces.

It has specifically banned the import of boiler - young chickens - and layer parent stock - one-day-old chickens - as the confirmed death toll from suspected bird flu rises to 10.
"We have banned poultry imports from eight countries to prevent any outbreak of bird flu in Bangladesh," said Abdul Haque, secretary, Fisheries and Livestock ministry.

The countries are China, Japan, Malaysia, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand, Vietnam and India, he said.

As the official announcement was made, Bangladesh's health directorate said the death toll from a mysterious disease that has affected a number of people in different parts of the country had risen to 20.

Bangladesh is thought to be safe from the feared "bird flu".

Its health ministry on Thursday said it was still waiting for results of lab tests in Dhaka and the United States to identify the mystery disease, which causes high fever, headaches, vomiting and spells of unconsciousness.

"There is absolutely no link found yet between the disease and bird flu," a senior health official said.

But, as an extra-precautionary measure, "all district officials, including those of the Livestock Department and Livestock Research Organisation, have been asked to be watchful and keep constant contact with the poultry farmers," a government handout said.

The Bangladeshi Government has requested all concerned not to panic about Avian Influenza or "bird flu", which has affected many south-east Asian countries, including Thailand.

The Health Directorate said one person died of the disease in Joypurhat on Thursday while another was affected in Tangail on Wednesday.

It said a total of 66 people had so far been infected.

Director general in charge of the directorate, Dr Dilu Ara Begum, said on Thursday that admitted patients were being given treatment "on a priority basis under special supervision, and their condition is improving."

The directorate is reviewing the situation daily and is taking immediate measures accordingly, he added.

Meanwhile, three people of same family at a village of Joypurhat Sadar Upazila died of the as yet unknown disease on 27 January.

Another woman of the same family is also thought to have fallen ill by the same unknown disease and was admitted to Joypurhat Sadar Hospital for treatment.

Abul Hossain ,50, his daughter Joly Khaton, 30, and grandson Milon, 8, of Jamalur Charmatha village were all admitted to Joypurhat hospital on 27 January with severe fever and later died.

Meanwhile Hasna Banu, 35, daughter-in-law of Abul Hossain, was also admitted to Joypurhat Hospital after contracting an unknown disease.

Dr Rakibul Hasan, a specialist at the hospital said he expected the family had been struck by an infectious disease carried by mosquito.

Bangladeshi authorities say it will take at least one more week to get the results of tests carried out on victims of the mystery illness, which doctors at the International Centre for Diarrhoeal Diseases Research said could be encephalitis.