25 February 2004
Work to Contain Bird Flu Must Continue in Asia, FAO Says
Estimated 100 million birds destroyed so far
Destruction of poultry must continue in Asia if ongoing outbreaks
of a dangerous bird flu virus are to be contained. The Food and
Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) issued that
guidance February 25, citing new reports of avian influenza in
eight Asian nations.
FAO estimates that 100 million chickens have been killed or destroyed
so far in an effort to stop transmission of H5N1, the highly infectious
strain of flu that's attacking the flocks. The disease has also
been transmitted to humans, causing a total of 32 cases and 25
deaths in Thailand and Vietnam. Those numbers, tracked by the World
Health Organization, are based on laboratory confirmed cases, so
there is a possibility that the number of human cases is far higher
but as yet undetected.
International public health experts and representatives from 23
Asian-Pacific nations will be in Bangkok February 26-28 for a regional
meeting on the disease and the response.
Following is the text of the FAO announcement:
Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations
Outbreaks of bird flu are still occurring in some Asian countries
An international emergency meeting in Bangkok will discuss control
Rome, 25 February 2004 -- Outbreaks of avian influenza are still
occurring in some Asian countries, FAO said today, stressing
the need for continued control campaigns.
Countries affected by the highly pathogenic H5N1 virus are Cambodia,
China, Indonesia, Japan, Republic of Korea, Laos, Thailand and
"The situation in some countries is still unclear and further
epidemiological investigations are required to get the virus under
control," FAO said.
FAO estimates that about 100 million birds have died or have been
culled to battle the disease (Thailand 36 million, Viet Nam 36
million, China 5 million, Pakistan 4 million, Indonesia 15 million).
FAO has sent several disease experts to Cambodia, China, Indonesia,
Laos, Pakistan, Thailand and Viet Nam to assess the local situation
and assist countries in their battle against the disease.
The findings of these missions will be instrumental to understand
the origin of the epidemic and the factors that lead to such a
wide and massive spread of the virus.
Surveillance and control strategies should be continued, FAO urged,
including elimination of all birds in infected production units
and the strengthening of biosecurity measures.
Officials from 23 Asia-Pacific countries, international experts,
donor and development organizations will meet in Bangkok, 26-28
February 2004, for a regional emergency meeting on bird flu to
discuss control strategies and rehabilitation measures.