The Institute of Epidemiology, Disease Control and Research in Dhaka has reported the first bird flu death in five years after the human infection of H5N1 virus had been detected in Bangladesh.

The agency that received the test report from the Centre from Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, a WHO reference laboratory, said that a child died from Influenza A (H5N1)

“It is the seventh case of H5N1 in human in Bangladesh and the first death. The boy was 1 year and 11 months old and lived in Chauddagram in Comilla district,” IEDCR director Mahmudur Rahman said yesterday.

The boy was first admitted to Comilla Medical College Hospital. He was then moved to Dhaka Shishu Hospital and finally to a private clinic, he said. The body died on February 18.

The IEDCR detected the case in its regular surveillance site and tested the nasal swab and blood as part of a routine investigation, the IEDCR director said. It collected samples when the boy was admitted to Comilla Medical College Hospital and was found positive on February 16. The boy was pronounced dead from ‘diagnosed meningitis’ on February 18.

“As this child had no typical features of influenza-like illness or bird flu, throat and nasal samples were sent for reconfirmation to the Centre for Diseases Control Atlanta in the United States. The confirmation was received on April 6,” Mahmudur said, adding that a detailed outbreak investigation was conducted.

He said that there was a strong epidemiological link with backyard poultry deaths. No other case was found among contacts during the investigation, he added.

Experts said that the major of cause of such infection is that people do not wash their hands after touching eggs, chickens or birds and keep them inside the house where they sleep.

Four flu viruses — H1N1, H5N1, H3N2 and H9N2 — are circulating in Bangladesh that scientists say can be devastating.

IEDCR experts suggested that people should eat well-cooked poultry products and strictly maintain bio-security in farms.

It has advised physicians to take the history of exposure to sick poultry while seeing patients with respiratory illness.

The world’s first outbreak of bird flu among humans took place in Hong Kong in 1997, when six people died.

Bangladesh identified its first bird flu infection in human on May 22, 2008.

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