September 13, 2010


Bangladesh poultry prices rise on anthrax scare


Poultry prices are going up daily across Bangladesh due to the recent anthrax phobia in beef.


Consumers were staying away from buying beef for the last few days due to reports of anthrax outbreak in some districts and also the red alert circulated by the government.


"I've bought broiler meat instead of beef as I came to know about the widespread outbreak of anthrax among the cows. Even then I bought the poultry birds ahead of Eid-ul-Fitr. Why shall I take the risk of anthrax by purchasing beef as there is no monitoring of sanitation?" a middle-aged lady customer said.


She, however, was indignant that the retailers of poultry have hiked the price to Tk 160-Tk 170 (US$2.31-$2.45) per kilogramme as against Tk 140-Tk 145 (US$2.02-$2.09) only 3-4 days ago.


Abdullah-Al Mamun, a resident of the city's Azimpur area, said that sale of beef looked quite bleak as the people got panicked with the reports of anthrax outbreak in cows and subsequent spread of the disease to humans.


Some beef sellers claimed that although they have been slaughtering the cows after proper inspection by the City Corporation officials, but the sale of beef fell drastically over the last 3-4 days.


"We used to sell meats of two or three cows on the day preceding Shab-e-Qadr in the past, but this year, on Monday, we have sold meats of one cow only," lamented a meat seller in Azimpur.


While visiting some kitchen markets in the capital, a correspondent found that the customers crowded the poultry shops to buy broilers at Tk 160-170 (US$2.31-$2.45) per kilogramme while meat shops attracted only a handful of customers buying beef. When asked, the poultry retailers informed that there was huge poultry demand over the 3-4 days following the reports of anthrax outbreak.


Consumers feared that the poultry prices might go up further with rising demand in the few days remaining before the holy Eid-ul-Fitr.


Dr Pravat Chandra Barua, a public health specialist, said that meat sanitation and food hygiene should be maintained by the City Corporation, while the personal hygiene of meat-handlers including those who prepare and cook meats is also essential.


Meat inspection by veterinary staffs or sanitary inspectors, both before and after the cows are slaughtered, should be ensured, said Dr Barua, also Professor and Head of Community Medicine Department of Chittagong Medical College.


He described anthrax as zoonotic disease that is now sporadically found in some districts of the country's northwestern part and said it could be prevented and controlled through an integrated and multi-disciplinary approach.


In this regard, Dr Barua highlighted the roles of public health specialists including civil surgeon/UHFPO and those dealing with animal husbandry to ensure healthy/disease-free cattle, and veterinary surgeons for treatment.


Emphasising on creating public awareness about anthrax, he suggested both the Directorates of Health and Livestock to immediately publish the texts and pictorial messages about anthrax in the national dailies.

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