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Bangladesh Slaughters 150,000 Birds After Worst H5N1 Virus Outbreak In 5 Years 76

An anonymous reader writes in with news about a bird flu outbreak in Bangladesh. "At least 150,000 chickens and 300,000 eggs have been destroyed at a giant poultry farm near Dhaka in Bangladesh after the major outbreak of avian flu was detected last week, officials said Wednesday. This season's bird flu outbreak was the worst in five years. Officials at Bay Agro at Gazipur detected the deadly H5N1 flu strain 25 miles (40 kilometers) north of Dhaka on Monday after dozens of birds died, which had prompted the poultry company to send samples to a laboratory for testing. 'There are about 150,000 chickens at the farm. We have already killed and destroyed 120,000 chickens and we will kill the rest today,' livestock department director Mosaddeq Hossain said, according to AFP. Hossain said that it was the worst avian flu outbreak in five years."
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Bangladesh Slaughters 150,000 Birds After Worst H5N1 Virus Outbreak In 5 Years

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  • by ryzvonusef ( 1151717 ) on Thursday December 27, 2012 @07:25AM (#42402755) Journal

    I know you are going WTF? at my header but read on...

    Some years ago there was a large scale out break of Bird Flu in my country. Naturally the government called for a massive cull...

    And while most (all normal people?) avoided all chicken and eggs, *some* people decided to take advantage of the sudden plummet in chicken prices.

    I shit you not, when I heard that a family in the neighbourhood sped up their son's wedding date significantly to take advantage of all that cheap, cheap chicken...

    Oh sure, apparently if you cook the chicken thoroughly the chances of catching the virus a minimum, but still... we decide to give that invitation a pass...

    So my dear Bangladeshi friends, take it from a fellow South Asian: If you get a sudden invite to a party or wedding, give it a pass...

  • by DrYak ( 748999 ) on Thursday December 27, 2012 @09:54AM (#42403231) Homepage

    Oh sure, apparently if you cook the chicken thoroughly the chances of catching the virus a minimum, but still..

    Influenza is a virus. It's a thing which spread from one living being to another. It has nothing to do with your food. *You* could eat sicked chicken without any risk as long as it's dead and cooked (and you have to cook poultry thoroughly if you don't want to have a big food poisoning problems anyway).

    Also, birdflu is a *BIRD* disease, humans normally don't catch it under normal circumstances. (The 'H5' receptor on the virus only binds to chicken cells. You need H1 or H3 to bind to human cells easily if my memory serves me right) So even if you have a sick chicken in your house, chance are almost nothing would probably happen to you.

    The problem is not *you*. The problem with is with the high density of birds in those farms and their massive (over-)population.
    If one single chicken catches the bird flu, it can spread very quickly to the whole farm, then neighbouring farm, then the whole region (same as human flu at a workplace in a densely populated area).
    If you don't stop the disease today, by killing the 150'000 chicken who were in direct contact with a sick chicken (and could catch it) today, then in a few days, you'll have a dozen of million of sick birds on your hands and a massive epidemiological problem. (Same with humans: If you don't stay at home when you're sick, you're going to make all your colleagues sick and before you know, the whole building housing your workplace is full of cick people).

    In addition to that, if there's such a massive amount of virus spreading around, there's a tiny bit of risk that "by error" a virus infects a human who is a lot in contact with the chickens and the bird epidemic (and by "a lot" i really mean "a lot". As in "the farmer who work in the chicken farm everyday". Not as in "some random guy who happen to eat chicken").
    For the human him-/her-self this isn't necessarily bad news (in a big city, in theory... sadly we're usually speaking about very poor farmers in remote area, so their accessibility to proper treatment is very likely to be sub-optimal). Nor is it a direct danger for other humans around (it was already a big amount of luck that the *bird* virus managed to infect a human. Jumping from that point onward to another human *again* is like winning a lottery 2 times in a row: *very* unlikely).
    But due to the peculiarities of influenza genetics, inside the human the bird flu virus could get mixed with a human flu it the human has it too. (The bird flu stealing the gene for the correct receptor to be able to efficiently bind and infect human cells). The same could also happen inside an animal which could catch both flu at the same time (pigs can occasionally catch bird flu, and pigs can also catch human flu - this a pig could also serve this role of mixer).
    And *this* mutant hybrid would be problematic because this new humanized bird flu could cause an epidemic among the human population.

    In short, the sick chickens aren't dangerous for humans. They are not killed because of that. The reason they are killed is to stop the bird flu spreading and causing an epidemics among the birds. And also to lower the risk that 1 virus manage to win the lottery and become a human-infecting hybrid and in turn cause a human epidemic.

    But the flesh is perfectly edible. You can safely eat chicken, and you can safely take advantage of the lower prices.

    (It's a different situation than the mad cow disease.
    Mad cow disease is due to a protein, which survives cooking.
    Bird flu is due to a virus, which requires a living bird, and doesn't infect humans anyway).

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