The warning followed reports that wild birds were being killed in Ho Chi Minh City in Viet Nam as a precautionary measure. Juan Lubroth, FAO senior officer responsible for infectious animal diseases, commented: “This is unlikely to make any significant contribution to the protection of humans against avian influenza.”
He added: “There are other, much more important measures to be considered that deserve priority attention. Fighting the disease in poultry must remain the main focus of attention.”
“Wild bird species found in and around cities are different from the wetland waterfowl that have been identified as carriers of the avian influenza virus,” he said.
FAO, along with the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) and the World Health Organization (WHO), recommend a series of measures to fight bird flu outbreaks. These include:
- Improving veterinary services, emergency preparedness plans and control campaigns including culling of infected animals, vaccination and compensation for farmers;
- Strengthening early detection and rapid response systems for animal and human influenza and building and strengthening laboratory capacity;
- Support and training for the investigation of animal and human cases and clusters, and planning and testing rapid containment activities.
“Controlling the virus in poultry is the most effective way by which the likelihood of the bird flu virus acquiring human-to-human transmissibility can be reduced,” Lubroth said.
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