Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific

Emercency meeting on bird flu in Bangkok

27 Feb 2004 -- Bangkok — Despite the fact that the number of infected countries has not increased since the beginning of February, after two months of control measures the situation of the highly pathogenic avian influenza H5N1 is still not under control, according to animal health experts and scientists gathered in Bangkok for the Emergency regional meeting on Avian Influenza control in animals in Asia. The three-day meeting, co-sponsored by the FAO and OIE, ends tomorrow.

Officials caution that the influenza virus may still be smoldering in Asia, due to the risks posed by uncontrolled movements, smuggled live poultry, and by migratory birds, particularly waterfowl.

Continued vigilance is essential to prevent further flare-ups and to eradicate the epidemic. Early diagnosis and rapid reaction can curb new outbreaks.

Officials in Asian countries should continue to closely monitor and, where appropriate, to restrict the movement of poultry from infected areas. Humans working in contact with infected poultry should be appropriately protected and monitored.
The strategies to be used to control the disease, including vaccination of birds, will be extensively examined during the second part of the meeting.
Public loss of confidence in the safety of poultry meat and eggs has wreaked economic havoc on farmers, despite the fact that properly cooked food is not a vector for the spread of avian influenza. Precautions taken by food workers handling raw chicken were frequently misinterpreted by the general public, who often abstain from eating poultry products because of misinformation. As a result, poultry sales were reduced by half in many countries.

Laboratory analysis of the avian influenza virus taken from the latest outbreak of bird flu in the state of Texas, US showed no link to the current avian flu epidemic in Asia, according to Dr Bernard Vallat, the Director-General of OIE. The American virus is type H5N2, and while the investigation is continuing, there is no known connection to any previous avian influenza outbreaks in North America.

RAP 04/13

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