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After a report of an unusually high number of crow deaths in Jessore, Bangladesh, a multidisciplinary team investigated the event in December 2018 to identify the etiologic agent, and the source and extent of the outbreak. We interviewed students, teachers, live bird sellers, poultry farm owners and cleaners for fever and cough symptoms. We reviewed the hospital records for acute respiratory distress syndrome and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. We observed live bird market practices, crow roosts and their feeding behavior, and collected cloacal and oropharyngeal swabs from moribund and dead crows, and pooled environmental samples from live bird markets (LBMs) and farms. All samples were tested for influenza A/H5, H7 and H9 by RT-PCR. The H5 prevalence was 77.4% in samples obtained from crow roosts. Among environmental samples from the LBMs, 11.1% were positive for H5 and 5.5% had co-infections with H5 and H9. Our results indicate that the H5 influenza virus is circulating in LBMs and was transmitted to crows through their feeding on the waste. We recommend that continuous surveillance in wild birds and LBMs is required to understand the virus’s evolution, transmission pathways and potential source of infection. Improved waste management practices in LBMs and public awareness are needed to reduce the risk and stop spillover of avian influenza virus to humans in Bangladesh.
Keywords: Bangladesh, live bird market, crow, influenza, poultry
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