02 Feb 2004 -- Bangkok – The UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) is seriously concerned about new outbreaks of bird flu in Asia.
“Bird flu remains a serious public and animal health threat and continues to spread”, FAO said in a statement issued today.
“The eruption of new infection cases in Thailand, China and Vietnam shows that the disease is far from being under control,” FAO said.
FAO will send an Australian epidemiologist to China on Thursday to support the control of the outbreak.
The situation remains serious in China, Thailand and Viet Nam, while Laos has managed to keep the immediate threat under control. In Vietnam, where more than 8 million chickens have been culled, urgent international support for further emergency measures is needed.
FAO urged countries to continue their eradication campaigns, applying internationally recommended emergency measures such as mass cullings, quarantine, disease monitoring etc.
The movement of people, animals, goods and equipment in affected areas should be urgently restricted. Contaminated feed should be destroyed.
Governments should openly share data and information about control campaigns in view of the regional dimension of the crisis.
Agriculture plays an important role in fighting bird flu to eliminate the threat to humans. “The faster poultry farmers and producers eradicate the virus, the lower the risk that the virus spreads to humans,” FAO said.
Farmers should be fully informed about the risks of the disease and the necessity of unpopular control measures.
Mass cullings should be combined with compensation schemes to get the full support of farmers in control operations. To date, more than 45 million animals have been culled, excluding China.
“The current crisis shows that poultry production systems have to be critically reviewed and modernized. Contacts between farm and wild birds should be avoided at any cost, given that wild fowl is considered to be the reservoir for avian flu”
“The livelihoods of millions of poultry farmers in Asia are at risk, FAO warned. The production units of small and medium poultry producers need to be strengthened. “These farmers will need to apply biosecurity measures in order to produce safer food and avoid future animal disease outbreaks.”
A joint FAO/OIE/WHO emergency meeting on avian influenza will be held in Rome at FAO headquarters on Tuesday, February 3, to set policies and strategies for controlling the disease and to develop action plans to address the animal as well as public heath concerns in each affected country.
Top veterinarian experts from some 14 countries are expected to attend. Several chief veterinarian officers from Asian countries will participate via teleconference.
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