Poultry farming in Bangladesh is now considered as one of the important sectors in creating both direct and indirect employment opportunities, improving food security and nutrition as well as contributing to economic growth and reducing poverty level in this country. The total investment in poultry sector is about 35,000 crore BDT and it has created employment of 6.0 million people, majority of them are youths and women. There are about 100 breeder farms and hatcheries. They produce about 700 million broiler and 47-million layer day-old chicks per year. Currently, both layer and broiler rearing have become an attractive income source for people, especially unemployed youths and women. However, the farmers are facing problems of disease outbreaks. Among the diseases, avian influenza is the most threatening that causes morbidity, loss of production, increases treatment cost, mortality and finally economic losses. Therefore, significant economic losses in the poultry industry have resulted from H9N2 Low Pathogenic avian influenza infection across Bangladesh.
The low pathogenic AI H9N2 (LP H9N2) viruses were found to co-circulate along with H5N1 and well embedded in the poultry population in our country causing serious damage to the poultry industry since 2009. A study conducted by Prof. Rafiqul Islam on outbreaks of disease in layer farms found that H9N2 case alone was 22.16 % (highest) among the diseases while H5N2 was only 2.27%. LPAI is a hidden enemy causing huge economic loss. It leads to other diseases and a drop in egg production by 28 percent in commercial layer and 29% DOC (day-old-chicks) production in breeder farms besides increasing the production cost. Therefore, the poultry industry (Bangladesh Poultry Industry Central Committee- BPICC) raised the issue of making this H9N2 vaccine available in this country for the last 5 years because the farmers have been losing money due to this H9N2 disease.
ACI Animal Health is playing a significant role in providing essential quality inputs including vaccines and services to poultry, dairy, and fisheries farmers for better farming and improving their livelihood. Recently ACI Animal Health has introduced this H9N2 vaccine (CEVAC® NEW FLU H9 K) as a solution of bird flu (LPAI) after getting permission from the government. The Ministry of Fisheries and Livestock (MOFL) formed a high-level technical committee with technical experts from different agencies (Research Institute, University, DLS, DHS, private sector etc.) to evaluate the performance of H9N2 vaccine. Accordingly, a trial was conducted on this vaccine by the government in BLRI, CDIL and BAU. The trial result found that the vaccine (CEVAC® NEW FLU H9 K) imported by ACI Animal Health is effective and produced sufficient protective level of titers and matched with circulating strain of H9N2 virus in Bangladesh. This vaccine is produced and supplied by a renowned company called CEVA SANTE ANIMALE. It is expected that thousands of farmers would be benefited by using this vaccine. However, they also need to take adequate biosecurity measures in their farms in addition to H9N2 vaccination in their flock.
Dr. Md. A. Saleque
Chief Technical Advisor, ACI Animal Health