Substantial economic losses in the poultry industry have resulted from Bird flu (High and Low Pathogenic avian influenza- H5N1 & H9N2) infection across Bangladesh. To protect our poultry industry in Bangladesh, ACI Animal health has introduced two types of vaccines against bird flu. A webinar was organized on “Bird Flu Prevention and Control in Poultry Farming” by ACI Animal Health on August 19, 2020. The speakers were from the Senior Technical experts from ACI and the Department of Livestock (DLS). Over 1600 commercial poultry farmers, consultants, practitioners, dealers/agents joined in the webinar and some of them also asked the questions to speakers. The speakers discussed the poultry production, various aspects of bird flu including types of bird flu, economic loss, prevention and control measures (Please see the link https://www.facebook.com/shonali.digital/videos/766694594148810/). Some of the issues which were deliberated during the webinar are stated below:
Poultry farming is currently contributing to the growth of the national economy and it is now considered as one of the important sectors in creating both direct and indirect employment opportunities in Bangladesh. The total investment in the poultry sector is about BDT 35,000 crore and it has created employment opportunities for over 6.0 million people, the majority of them being youth and women (Bangladesh Poultry Industries Central Committee-BPICC, 2020). Chicken meat and egg are the cheapest sources of protein available in our country compared to the more expensive sources like beef and fish and it also helps to boost up the immune system. As per the DLS & BPICC report (2019), the country is producing approximately 46.6 million eggs and 3.1 million kg of poultry meat per day in 2019 compared to 30.1 million eggs and 2.2 million poultry meat per day in 2015, but still, the demand of eggs and meat have been expanding dramatically with the income growth, population growth, urbanization and dietary changes. The recent Covid-19 pandemic situation has created an undesirable impact and uncertainty in the poultry subsector (BPICC,2020). Therefore, the poultry farmers, private sectors, service providers, government and other stakeholders are adopting appropriate coping mechanisms to overcome the situation in terms of supply of inputs and sell of final products.
The major expansion of the poultry industry took place after the 2000s because of the increase in the demand for eggs and meats. However, the farmers are facing challenges of disease outbreaks especially bird flu disease. The highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI- H5N1) was first observed in 2007 and low pathogenic avian influenza (LPAI) H9N2 in 2009 in Bangladesh. These two subtypes viruses are found to co-circulate and are well embedded among the poultry population in our country (Giasuddin,2018). Active surveillance of poultry diseases was conducted by Prof. Islam in 2018 and a total of 162 outbreaks in layer farms were investigated. The study demonstrated that H9N2 alone was 22.16 % (highest) among the diseases while H5N2 was only 2.27% (Islam,2018). The lower incidence of HPAI was found mainly due to H5N1 vaccination in our country since 2012. It is expected that the low pathogenic avian influenza would be controlled due to the recent introduction of H9N2 Vaccine.
Bird flu (HPAI and LPAI) – is a concerning issue. Bird flu remains a huge challenge for poultry production with negative impacts on micro and macro-economy in Bangladesh. HPAI (H5N1) and LPAI (H9N2) AIV are currently endemic in poultry. (Parvin et al.,2020) Avian Influenza (AI) is a contagious viral infection that affects all types of birds (Breeders, Layers, Sonali and Broiler) and it is a hidden enemy of poultry farming. The clinical signs of AI infection are variable and influenced greatly by the virulence of the viruses involved, the species affected, age, concurrent bacterial diseases and the environment. (Giasuddin,2018)
H5N1 – Highly pathogenic, public health issue, high mortality, spread quickly. Ultimately, the disposal of flock. Loss of investment.
H9N2 – Low pathogenic, animal health issue, less mortality but serious economic consequences to poultry farms i.e. low production, high FCR, high production cost, use of excessive antibiotics. It also leads to other diseases.
Bird flu solution
Bird flu is one of the most devastating viral diseases in the poultry industry. In countries (regions) where the bird flu has become enzootic, the only additional measure to reduce the spread of the disease is vaccination in the presence of adequate biosecurity measures. Thus, the government has given permission to use the H5N1 vaccine in 2012 and H9N2 in 2020 to protect the poultry industry as well as farmers from losing money due to bird flu disease. ACI Animal Health introduced successfully HVT AI vaccine for H5N1 from 2012 and CEVAC® NEW FLU H9 K for H9N2 disease from 2020. These two vaccines were trialed by the government and found very effective and produced enough protective levels of titers and matched with the circulating strain of the virus in Bangladesh. This vaccine is produced and supplied by a renowned company called CEVA SANTE ANIMALE. HVT AI and CEVAC® NEW FLU H9 K vaccine are the government-approved, tested and formal vaccine in this country to tackle the outbreak of bird flu. It is expected that if all the farms and all the birds are properly vaccinated along with adequate biosecurity measures, thousands of farmers would be benefited and will be able to protect the poultry industry of Bangladesh.
Dr. Md. A. Saleque
Chief Technical Advisor
ACI Animal Health