KUALA LUMPUR, July 4 (Xinhuanet)-- The UN Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) here Monday called for mass vaccinations of poultry and more efforts to develop new poultry vaccines in order to avoid a human pandemic in Asia.
The FAO noted that the bird flu situation in many Asian countries remains serious and requires more attention by affected countries and the international community.
"Avian influenza is not just an Asian problem," said FAO's Chief Veterinary Officer Joseph Domenech. "No poultry producing country is safe from the occurrence of the avian influenza as longas there are pockets of infection in Asia," he said.
He made the remarks at the opening ceremony of an international meeting on avian influenza and human health here.
"Eradication of the virus from the (Asian) region will no be easily achieved. Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) can be considered as an endemic disease in many countries," said Domenech.
Jointly organized by FAO, World Organization of Animal Health (OIE) and World Health Organization (WHO), the three-day consultation is themed "Risk Reduction Measures in Producing, Marketing and Living with Animals in Asia".
Avian influenza is not just an Asian problem, and no poultry producing country is safe from the occurrence of HPAI as long as there are still pockets of infection in Asia, Joseph warned.
Joseph called for more financial support from the internationalcommunity and urged governments of those affected countries to better share information and coordinate actively on bird flu prevention and control strategies.
Vaccination in risk areas remains one of the tools FAO and OIE have constantly advised to be used, and in some countries, such asin Vietnam, massive vaccination could be the only way to first reduce infection in poultry, which will further reduce human exposure and infection, Joseph said.
FAO and OIE will organize an international scientific conference next year to assess the results of ongoing research andof field use of veterinary vaccines, Joseph said.
Joseph also called for careful investigation and epidemiology research of the role of wildlife, saying that wildlife could play an important role in the dissemination of the virus and affect biodiversity particularly with regard to endangered species.
Since the end of 2003, more than 10 countries have been affected by the avian influenza, with over 50 human victims and with more than 140 million birds killed or culled, he added.
About 90 experts, researchers and officials from FAO, OIE, WHO and other organizations are attending the consultation, whose major objectives are to identify those dangerous practices in the production and marketing of live animals in Asia, assess how effectively current regulatory controls are and provide practical guidelines on how to improve regulatory controls on the productionand marketing of live animals for food. Enditem