DHAKA // Authorities in Bangladesh have stepped up surveillance after a fresh outbreak of the deadly H5N1 strain of avian influenza was discovered, officials said today. "So far 10,000 birds were culled at several infected firms and surrounding areas in five districts," said Salehuddin Khan, director of the government's livestock department. The H5N1 virus was first reported near the capital in March 2007 and spread to 47 of Bangladesh's 64 districts, forcing authorities to kill more than 1.65 million birds.
Industry officials said about 40 per cent of the country's more than 150,000 poultry farms have been closed, making half a million people jobless. The World Health Organisation in May confirmed the first human case of bird flu in Bangladesh, a 16-month-old baby infected in January. The infant recovered. Since the virus resurfaced in Asia in late 2003, at least 247 people have died from bird flu in a dozen countries, the WHO says.