PARIS/DHAKA (Reuters) - Bangladesh discovered two outbreaks of the highly contagious H5N1 bird flu virus in poultry last week, according to reports from the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) and a senior Bangladeshi health ministry official on Monday.
A first case was found at a poultry farm in Dhamrai, just outside the capital, Dhaka. Out of 3,000 Sonali type poultry at risk from the outbreak, 732 died from the virus and the rest were slaughtered, according to the Paris-based OIE.
The other outbreak was found in a village in the Western district of Rajshahi where about 450 backyard poultry died from the virus, a senior health ministry official, who asked not to be named as he is not authorized to talk to media, told Reuters.
“There is no reason to panic, people should inform us if they see birds are dying,” he said, adding there had been no case of human infection in the country.
Bangladesh was first hit by bird flu in 2007, when more than a million birds were culled.
Different strains of bird flu have been spreading across Europe and Asia since late last year, leading to mass culling of poultry in certain countries and some human deaths in China.
This prompted the World Health Organization to call on all countries on Monday to monitor closely outbreaks of the deadly virus in birds and poultry and to report promptly any human cases that could signal the start of a flu pandemic.
Like the H7N9 strain that is spreading in China, and as opposed to the H5N8 hitting Europe and the Middle East, the H5N1 strain can infect humans if they are in close contact with infected live or dead birds.
Reporting by Sybille de La Hamaide in Paris and Ruma Paul in Dhaka; Editing by Louise Heavens and Mark Potter