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Bangladesh bird flu spreads as it closes border

Bangladesh has closed its border with India following the spread of bird flu to 29 districts of the country.

world Updated: Jan 28, 2008 11:11 IST

Bangladesh has closed its border with India following the spread of bird flu to 29 districts of the country, even as Dhaka says the situation is better than in adjoining West Bengal state of India.

The Bangladesh Rifles (BDR) and officials concerned have been asked to check the smuggling in of any poultry from India, the New Age newspaper said on Monday.

Another newspaper, the Daily Star, reported that bird flu had spread to nine more districts by Sunday, bringing the number of affected districts to 29 out of 64 in Bangladesh. Bird flu was declared in Bangladesh on January 3, 12 days before it was declared in West Bengal. The two share a long and porous border.

Nearly 150,000 public and private poultry farms will come under official surveillance as the government has launched a nationwide bird flu prevention campaign. But only 41,620 birds have been culled so far.

"The government has already enforced a countrywide poultry farms inspection programme involving all field level livestock officials," said Manik Lal Samaddar, special assistant to Chief Advisor Fakhruddin Ahmed.

Ahmed, performing prime ministerial functions in the country's interim government, issued directives against the spread of avian influenza at the weekly cabinet meeting on Sunday.

People have been told not to buy chicken from roadside vendors and an awareness campaign has been launched.

Bangladesh has culled 326,844 poultry birds since the last bird flu outbreak in March 2007, the Daily Star report added. The country has around 210 million poultry birds.