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Massive H5N1 Crow Deaths in Bangladesh Raise Concerns

Recombinomics Commentary 15:21
January 28, 2008

In the last four days, over 1,000 crows have dropped dead in Barisal, Patuakhali and Dinajpur districts, with laboratory tests confirming they were infected with the H5N1 virus.

The above comments expand the number of dead crows in Bangladesh with confirmed H5N1.  The above areas in the northern and southern areas of Bangladesh (see satellite map here and here).  The large numbers of wild birds infected with H5N1 complicate control efforts and increase the likelihood that the dead crows and other wild birds in West Bengal (including pigeons, hawks, owls, falcons, and migratory birds including teals) are also H5N1 positive.  West Bengal’s failure to report / confirm H5N1 in these wild bird birds increases concerns regarding the reliability and timeliness of reports coming out of West Bengal.  Media reports have voiced similar concerns over reports coming out of Bangladesh.

As seen in the maps, the number of reported cases in both countries in recent days has been large, and new cases are being reported daily, in spite of extensive culling.  Media reports indicate over 2 million birds have been culled in West Bengal, but H5N1 in wild birds will likely spread H5N1 throughout the area and included locations that are seal off from West Bengal and / or Bangladesh.

The concerns over H5N1 in wild and domestic birds extend to humans, which have had extensive exposures to H5N1.  H5N1 has been confirmed in suburban Dhaka in Bangladesh, and Calcutta in West Bengal.  Moreover, goats in the multiple regions reporting high levels of H5N1 in birds have pneumonia, one of the common complications of H5N1 infection.

The continuing daily reports of H5N1 in new areas and new species in West Bengal and Bangladesh continue to increase pandemic concerns.

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