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Migratory birds are mainly responsible for the outbreak of avian influenza (AI) or bird flu in the country, according to a study report.

The report said that migratory birds might be responsible for initial introduction of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) in Bangladesh.

Bangladesh Livestock Research Institute (BLRI), Bangladesh Agriculture University, Chittagong Veterinary University, Department of Livestock Service and Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) jointly conducted the study from February to June this year.

The study involved phylogenetic, epidemiological and socio-economic analysis.

The research findings were presented at a seminar at BLRI in Savar. Former vice chancellor of Bangladesh Agriculture University Prof Dr MU Ahmed Chowdhury was present as the chief guest and BLRI Director General Dr Jahangir Alam presided over the seminar.

Dr Jahangir Alam said that from the epidemiological study, it might be predicted that after the introduction of HPAI in Bangladesh the virus spread to waterfowl and initially the native chicken and ducks might have been infected after coming into contact with the migratory birds.

Then the virus would have spread to commercial farms through poultry workers, poultry feed and medicine suppliers, feed and egg carriers and egg trays.

Socio-economic analysis shows that the poultry industry of Bangladesh faced a financial loss in 2008 due to the second wave of bird flu attack, which was estimated at Tk 3,858.31 crore. The affected farms lost their business and many of them were reluctant to go back to the production system.

The study recommended promulgating an ordinance to control movement of migratory birds throughout the country, except in selected locations or sanctuaries.

Early detection of HPAI virus, efficient surveillance and strict maintenance of bio-safety measures should also be ensured, it added.

At the same time, it is important to share information and undertake studies on HPAI bilaterally and regionally to minimise the risk of sustained endemic of AI in poultry in the region.

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