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Bird flu spreads alarmingly as more fowls culled in Bangladesh
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A boy is looking to a chicken stall in Dacca, captital of Bangladesh.(Xinhua/Reuters File Photo)

Bangladesh's health workers culled more than 58,000 fowls across the country in the past 24 hours as bird flu ravaged the country's poultry industry, officials said Sunday.

The new culling was conducted in districts of Jamalpur, Rajshahi, Gazipur, Bogra, Tjhakurgaon, Feni and Chandpur.

An official at the bird flu control room told Xinhua that with the fresh culling of chickens, ducks, pigeons and pet birds, the total number of culled birds shot up to 968,731 since the avian influenza broke out in March last year.

A similar number of eggs were destroyed at 315 farms in 92 sub-districts under 45 districts, the official said.

Bangladesh Poultry Industries Association (BPIA) has said the deadly virus has led to the closure of more than 50 percent of the farms and turned nearly five million people jobless.

The BPIA said about 100 billion taka (about 1.43 billion U.S. dollars) were invested in the poultry sector but the flu has incurred a loss of 41 billion taka (about 586 million U.S. dollars) to the industry so far.

"The losses we have faced are irreparable. Nearly five million men and women mostly in rural areas engaged in poultry business were turned jobless", BPLA president Kaiser Rahman said.

He said 50 percent of the poultry farms were already shut down and more on the verge of the closure.

The BPIA demanded immediate import of vaccine to combat the virus and to protect chickens.

It also demanded granting bank loans on easy term for affected traders and owners of the feed mills, exemption of VAT and taxes on poultry fodder, equipment and other materials required for the industry, and allowing breeders and big farm owners to import kits for quick detection of the virus.

Meanwhile, prices of chickens and eggs at markets dropped drastically as panicked people stopped eating chickens and eggs.

However, microbiologists and physicians said there is no reason for the people to panic as there is no human infection case in Bangladesh.

They stressed the need for raising awareness about the disease among the people, including the poultry workers, sellers, buyers and veterinarians, to contain the infection and spread of the disease.

(Xinhua News Agency February 25, 2008)

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