- In the last 20-25 days, avian influenza has spread in 11 states of India
- the Commercial Counsellor of Delhi had sent a letter to Bangladesh with information about the spread of avian influenza in India
- experts concerned fear the spread of the disease to Bangladesh if necessary measures are not taken beforehand
- the government needs to cooperate in importing avian influenza vaccine for the poultry sector
- a recent inter-ministerial meeting decided to stop import of parent stock and grandparent stock from India and other infected countries
- BGB has been asked to take measures to prevent smuggling of chicken meat, chicks and parent stock through border areas
- in a warning issued in February, China, Hong Kong, India, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Japan, Korea, Kuwait, Nepal and Vietnam have been listed as contagious countries in Asia
- in Europe, 500 new infections have been reported
With avian influenza infection spreading rapidly in several Indian states causing deaths of chickens, migratory birds, storks and crows, businesses and relevant government organs in Bangladesh are worried the disease may reach here too.
Officials at the Ministry of Fisheries and Livestock and the Department of Livestock have sounded alarms and suggested taking immediate necessary measures to prevent infection of the avian flu, especially to safeguard the poultry industry.
The Commercial Counsellor of Delhi has recently sent a letter to Bangladesh authorities concerned with information about the spread of avian influenza in India, sources at the ministry have told The Business Standard.
In the past 20-25 days, the flu has spread to 11 states of India including Himachal, Haryana, Punjab, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh.
Therefore, the Ministry of Commerce has decided not to allow any import of chicks, parent stock, grandparent stock, poultry, birds and eggs from India and other infected countries.
Stakeholders in the poultry sector said a very small amount of parent stock had been imported from India in recent times. Some parent stocks, including one-day-old chicks, are also smuggled into the border areas. There is also a natural migration of migratory birds. So the government needs to cooperate in importing avian influenza vaccine for the poultry sector.
An inter-ministerial meeting was recently held at the commerce ministry to prevent the spread of bird flu. The meeting decided to stop the import of parent stock and grandparent stock from India.
The Ministry of Home Affairs has asked the Border Guard Bangladesh in a letter to take measures to prevent smuggling of chicken meat, chicks and parent stock through the border areas.
One-day-old chicks are regularly imported from France, the USA, the UK, Sri Lanka, the Netherlands, Czech Republic, Australia, Canada, Malaysia, Hungary and New Zealand.
Rawnak Mahmud, the secretary of the Ministry of Fisheries and Livestock, told The Business Standard, "We are on high alert. Monitoring is being done to ensure that no parent stock or eggs are imported from infected countries. Initiatives have also been taken to provide training and warn farmers.
He added that the government had allowed vaccine import as per requirement.
Different countries shape policies based on warnings issued by the World Organisation for Animal Health about infectious diseases in the livestock sector.
In a warning issued in February, China, Hong Kong, India, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Japan, Korea, Kuwait, Nepal and Vietnam have been listed as contagious countries in Asia. Apart from the poultry sector, the report details 137 new infections vulnerable for Asia.
The list also includes Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Norway, Poland, Romania, Russia, Slovakia, Spain, Sweden and the UK. Industry insiders say although Bangladesh does not import much from India, it does import large quantities of parent stock and grandparent stock from various European countries.
In Europe, 500 new infections have been reported.
Officials said the virus had not been detected in Bangladesh since 2019. But from 2007 to 2018, the virus plagued the poultry sector in Bangladesh. Avian influenza infection was detected in 504 commercial poultry farms at the time. The government gave Tk32 crore compensation to 822 farmers.
Bangladesh wants to remain vigilant so that the virus does not affect the sector anew since it is a big obstacle to egg and meat production.
According to the Ministry of Fisheries and Livestock, no avian influenza cases have been reported since 2019, but poultry stakeholders say there are still some infections in Bangladesh, which are on a very small scale. Its prevalence has declined due to the recent approval of vaccine imports.
According to the ministry, about 36 crore doses of avian influenza vaccines have been imported so far.
Asked about the matter, Bangladesh Poultry Industry Central Council President Moshiur Rahman told TBS, "We have faced the infection once. There has been some improvement after the vaccine was applied. However, it cannot be said there is no infection at all because it can strike again at any time. That is why we have to be careful."
Several decisions were taken at the meeting of the Ministry of Commerce, including adopting surveillance programmes across the country, focusing on the diagnosis, testing chickens suspected of carrying the virus in laboratories, spraying pesticides on poultry and poultry-carrying vehicles, ensuring vaccination of one-day-old chicks in hatcheries and increasing farm monitoring.