Bangladesh battles bird flu4th July 2007
Bangladesh, where around five million people depend on poultry farming for a living, has yet to see a human case of avian influenza.
But a World Bank advisory body is teaming up with a leading Bangladeshi NGO to raise awareness of the lethal H5N1 strain of bird flu, which has spread to dozens of farms since March.
There have been no known cases in Bangladesh of people being infected with the H5N1 bird flu virus.
Better education is one of the main areas of focus. Poultry is the country's fastest-growing livestock sector, employing millions of people, and the project aims to help small farmers to put measures in place to improve both their farming practices and their productivity.
A statement from an IFC advisory body called the SouthAsia Enterprise Development Facility (SEDF) and the group BRAC said the project would raise awareness among more than 10,000 small poultry farmers and retailers.
"IFC has global experience dealing with the avian influenza. We are using our expertise and BRAC's experience and outreach in the sector to help protect farmers, small and medium enterprises, and other stakeholders," said Deepak Adhikary, deputy general manager of IFC-SEDF.
Fifty-one farms in 16 districts have already been hit by the avian flu bug, forcing the authorities to cull nearly 255,000 poultry, according to figures from the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries.
The virus has killed 191 people worldwide since late 2003 and scientists fear the H5N1 virus could mutate in a form that easily passes between people, triggering a pandemic.
In total, 317 people are known to have been infected globally and contact with sick or dead poultry tends to be the common link.
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