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3 workers diagnosed with bird flu in capital

Bdnews24.com . Dhaka

Detection of three new human infections with the deadly H5NI strain of bird flu in a week has set alarm bells ringing as scientists have found evidence of the virus in the live-bird market in crowded Dhaka.
The Institute of Epidemiology, Disease Control and Research confirmed a human case on February 26 when a worker of a live-bird market in southern part of the capital was tested H5N1 positive at the IEDCR’s surveillance site.
Its director professor Mahmudur Rahman told the news agency that they had informed the government’s Department of Livestock right away and suggested ‘immediate’ steps to disinfect wet markets.
The news agency saw no cleaning drive but learned the livestock department fixed a technical committee meeting for Wednesday instead of beginning to disinfect the market.
In the meantime, the IEDCR that oversees human infections of bird flu disclosed on Monday that another two cases were confirmed on Sunday night in their lab.
‘They are also live-bird market workers,’  Rahman said and added that they expected the livestock department to move quickly for the sake of public health safety.
‘The virus’s presence in live-bird market means it is now even closer to people,’ he added.
A scientist with the IEDCR said that they had run into evidence suggesting presence of the H5N1 virus in the live-bird market’s garbage, as well.
The virus has the potential to cause severe illness in human with a high fatality rate.
‘We are lucky as the strain (clade 2.2) of H5N1 that circulates in Bangladesh is less virulent, but it can change into another class (2.1), which is highly infectious to human,’ the IEDCR director said.
According to World Health Organisation, across the globe H5N1 killed 349 out of its 592 victims, except the latest two detected in Bangladesh.
Livestock authorities could not be reached immediately.
Chief veterinary officer Mosaddek Hossain, who oversees poultry infections of bird flu, declined comment.
With four strains of flu virus – H5N1, H1N1, H3N2 and H9N2 – circulating in Bangladesh, the United Nations in August last year warned of a possible major resurgence of bird flu.
It said a mutant strain of the H5N1 virus is spreading in Asia including Bangladesh.
The government has confirmed first case of human infection with H5N1 in 2007, and two cases were reported in 2011.
IEDCR advises people wash egg shells and suggests consuming well-cooked poultry products.
It also urged not to litter giblets and dead birds just anywhere and maintain personal hygiene – cough into the crook of elbow and wash hands with soap often.
The first human infection from H5N1 was detected in 1997 in Hong Kong.

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