Wednesday, July 12, 2006


The Voice Of America has a report here which claims that the fight against the spread of bird is being lost, not won, despite 'victories' in countries like Vietnam. The world now stands, vastly unprepared, on the brink of a devastating, incalculable human pandemic. The spread of the avian influenza virus through the world's poultry stocks increases the likelihood of the virus mutating into a form that becomes easily transmisable between humans increases each time a new country reports an outbreak :

The senior U.N. System Coordinator for Avian and Human Influenza, David Nabarro, says between 2003 and 2006, the deadly H5N1 strain of the bird flu virus was detected in 16 countries. He says that number has doubled in just six months.

"I would say it is certainly moving into more and more countries, with a speed that is, for me, and for my colleagues, a continuing and serious cause of concern," he said.

Another cause of concern is the high mortality rate. WHO Assistant Director General Margaret Chan says 228 human cases of bird flu have been reported in 10 countries, and 130 of them were fatal.

"Now this is, in terms of avian influenza, a very devastating disease," he said. "We have never seen, what we call, such a high case-fatality rate. That means more than…50 percent of people affected by the infection eventually succumb to the disease."

The deputy director general of the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization, David Harcharik, says, many countries in Asia, the Middle East and Europe have successfully stopped the spread of bird flu. They have done so by employing methods, such as the culling of sick poultry, disinfecting and vaccinating birds. Harcharik says, once H5N1 is stopped in poultry, human cases also stop.

"Of special concern is Africa, where there is a real risk of avian influenza becoming endemic in several countries, at least in the short term," he said. "One reason is that, it is very difficult to enforce appropriate control measures in the African context. Culling, compensation to farmers and effective checks on animal movements, which have worked well in Europe and East Asia are much harder to achieve in Africa."

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