FAO crisis centre experts in South Korea studying risk of avian flu spread
Poultry production, marketing and wild birds under scrutiny
19 December 2006, Rome – A nine-person team from the joint FAO/OIE Crisis Management Centre (CMC) is in the Republic of (South) Korea on a 10-day mission collecting epidemiological data from rural areas south of the capital, Seoul, where three recent outbreaks of avian influenza in domestic poultry occurred.
At the invitation of the Korean government and in cooperation with the country’s chief veterinary officer, the CMC experts have been asked to help throw light on the risk of further spread of the disease among birds in the country itself and throughout the region. The Korean authorities are taking care of all control and containment activities related to the outbreaks.
The CMC team includes international and Korean veterinary epidemiologists, wildlife veterinarians, biologists and poultry specialists who will pay particular attention to the relationships between poultry production, marketing and wildlife sectors to gather information that is necessary to better understand potential disease movement among chickens and risks to or from wild birds. The team will be looking at any wild bird deaths on infected farms or adjacent wetlands, as well as collecting environmental samples that may lead to a better understanding of disease emergence in the area.
Besides the wild bird angle, the CMC experts hope to investigate many other potential risk factors, such as the handling of sick and dead birds, eggs and manure, the role that fencing, cages, vehicles and water might have played as sources of infection or virus maintenance mechanisms in the natural environment. While in the country, the CMC team will liaise with all relevant government ministries and institutions, and with other U.N. agencies.
Mission a first for the FAO/OIE Crisis Management Centre
By the end of the mission, scheduled for 21 December, the team hopes to be able to provide answers to some of the questions surrounding the mechanisms of disease introduction and spread, and to offer some insights into the potential for spread of the disease to other countries in a region already hard hit in recent years by highly pathogenic avian influenza.
The Korean mission is the first full-scale multidisciplinary team deployment to be mounted by the CMC since it was officially launched on 12 October 2006 at FAO headquarters in Rome.
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