10 november 2010 - The OIE/FAO network of expertise on animal influenzas (OFFLU) works to reduce the negative impacts of animal influenza viruses by promoting effective collaboration between animal health experts and with the human health sector. Established in 2005, its objectives are  to exchange scientific data and biological materials (including virus strains) within the network, to analyse such data, and to share such information with the wider scientific community;  to offer technical advice, training and veterinary expertise to Member Countries to assist in the prevention, diagnosis, surveillance and control of animal influenza;  to collaborate with the WHO influenza network on issues relating to the animal-human interface, including early preparation of human vaccine; and  to highlight influenza research needs, promote their development and ensure effective coordination.
OFFLU will hold its third annual technical meeting on 16–17 November 2010 at FAO headquarters in Rome, Italy to discuss technical issues related to animal influenza with 65 participants. On the first day, session one will deal with introducing OFFLU to attendees as well as presenting its technical activities and projects throughout the world. Session two will deal with surveillance networks, more specifically those related to avian, equine and swine influenzas. Session three will be devoted to technical presentations by participating experts and invited scientists on selected themes. On the second day, sessions four and five will examine the animal-human interface with technical presentations and discussions. Sessions six and seven will distribute participants, according to topic expertise, into discussion-working groups. Finally, session eight concludes the technical meeting with feedback, reflections and recommendations.
As a whole, this and previous technical meetings are held to present, examine and discuss the latest developments on animal influenzas that are taking place around the globe. Also, they are intended to raise awareness about OFFLU, its mission, objectives and to inform attendees about its nine technical activities (i.e. applied epidemiology, standard H5 antiserum, biosafety, vaccination, reference standard for PCR, proficiency testing, capacity building, global gene observatory, and diagnostic kits). Now more than ever the need for strong institutional and scientific collaborations at the animal-human interface is essential to combat emerging public threats from animal origins. A stronger partnership became evident during the H5N1 panzootic, and reemphasized with the emergence of pandemic (H1N1) 2009 influenza. Other animal influenzas may also affect animal and human health, negatively impact the livelihoods of livestock-dependent farmers, and increase the risks of pushing populations into food insecurity; therefore it is critical to bring together topmost professionals/scientists with the latest developments in science and research to make our world a safer and better place to live. This is the first technical meeting where all main animal influenzas are represented through avian, equine, swine and other animal (mink) influenza experts.
More information about the OFFLU technical meeting and details about OFFLU can be found here.