Smuggling of chickens from India into Bangladesh has heightened fears of an outbreak of bird flu in the country.
In February India had reported cases of the deadly H5N1 strain of the avian flu. About 105 humans have died in Asia since the outbreak of bird flu in 2003. Over the past two weeks border security guards have seized and culled over100,000 chickens smuggled into Bangladesh from India.
In addition Dhaka has also banned imports of any poultry products from 33 Asian and European countries. Vigilance has also been stepped up at the borders to prevent smuggling from India.
According to Abdullah-Al Noman, the fisheries and livestock minister Bangladesh is ill-prepared to handle an outbreak of bird flu. In the case of an outbreak the Bangladesh government claims to have an emergency fund of 50 million takas (US$714,000) to procure equipment in the case of an avian flu outbreak with further aid expected from the WHO.
Health officials claim that an outbreak of bird flu could cripple the country's poultry industry, which presently produced an annual turnover of US$750 million.