Bangladesh says child recovers from bird flu

DHAKA (Reuters) - Bangladesh said on Thursday a child infected with bird flu, the country’s first reported human case of the virus, had recovered.

“The child was found infected by H5N1 but after treatment he has recovered and is now doing well,” Mahmudur Rahman, director of the Dhaka-based Institute of Epidemiology and Disease Control and Research, told Reuters.

He said the case was detected recently during a routine check-up, but did not give details.

Bird flu was first detected in Bangladesh in March last year, and since then the authorities have culled around 2 million chickens and destroyed more than 2 million eggs.

Avian influenza has spread through 47 of Bangladesh’s 64 districts causing losses of about 45 billion taka ($650 million) to the growing poultry sector, which accounts for 1.6 percent of the impoverished nation’s gross domestic product.

But there had been no report of further spread of the virus in the country since early April this year.

About 60 percent of the country’s more than 150,000 poultry farms have been closed, making more than 1.5 million people jobless.

Experts fear the H5N1 strain could mutate or combine with the highly contagious seasonal influenza virus and spark a pandemic, especially in countries such as Bangladesh where people live in close proximity to backyard poultry.

The virus rarely infects people, but there have been 382 human cases worldwide since 2003, including 241 deaths, according to the World Health Organisation.

Reporting by Nizam Ahmed, Masud Karim and Ruma Paul; Editing by Anis Ahmed and Alex Richardson