25 February 2018

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Bird flu warning prevents world pandemic

UN official says early warning on possible virus mutation generated right response in governments, preventing an immediate pandemic. He makes an appeal for Indonesia and Africa.

New York (AsiaNews/Agencies) – More than 30 countries have recorded bird flu outbreaks. Although the number of H5N1 virus-related deaths is rising, the United Nations is satisfied that a quick response by governments last year prevented a pandemic, said David Nabarro, a senior UN health coordinator. In February Mr Nabarro warned countries against the possibility of person-to-person transmission or an imminent pandemic because of a possible mutation in the H5N1 virus.

Except for the Americas, the virus has infected birds around the world and led to the cullying of millions of poultry, geese and other birds.

"In 2006, we did see more than 30 countries reporting outbreaks," Nabarro said. "Unfortunately, the virus continues to affect humans—with 256 people known to be affected and 151 dying" since 2003.

The monthly trend in bird flu-related human deaths is upward, especially because of Indonesia, the most affected country.

The UN official has called for stepped up economic and organisational assistance, especially for Indonesia and Africa.

In his view, the H5N1 avian influenza virus should remain a major issue for most of the world for at least five years, and perhaps 10 years.

One key to tackling the bird flu is to change poultry rearing practices.

Bird flu seems to be spread by a combination of wild birds that migrate and trade in infected birds.

Many experts also believe it will take five to 10 years to change poultry rearing practices, especially in countries where poultry is plentiful and birds are kept in the backyard.

See also

12/12/2006 SOUTH KOREA
New outbreak of bird flu in South Korea
This is the third outbreak in a month. All outbreaks occurred in areas close to each other in a region of intensive poultry breeding. More than one million birds have been culled in a bid to stop the outbreaks.

16/03/2005 INDONESIA
Bird flu outbreak in West Java and South Sulawesi
Since January 40,000 birds have died; 1.6 million are infected. Hong Kong plans to kill 1.8 million poultry as a preventive measure.

16/01/2006 TURKEY
Avian flu: Between good and bad news
The good news is that three children have recovered from the bird flu; the bad news is that one girl died from it. For FAO, there still is time to prevent the flu from becoming endemic in Turkey as long as there are "enough resources".

28/07/2006 ASIA
Needed 500 million dollars to fight bird flu
Asian experts meeting in New Delhi are worried because the region is not ready for human pandemic. In Laos H5N1 virus kills 2,500 chickens.

07/10/2005 ASIA
Avian flue pandemic could kill up to 300 million people
International health experts warn it might impossible to stop virus spreading once the pandemic is underway. The US is looking at ways to close its borders and isolate 'hot spots".

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