Global fight against bird flu
ROME, Feb. 7 (Xinhua) -- The U.N. Food and
Agriculture Organization (FAO) on Wednesday expressed confidence in the capacity
of British authorities to adequately respond to the recent outbreak of H5N1
avian influenza in a commercial turkey farm in Britain.
British authorities are still trying to determine the
source of the outbreak at the farm in Suffolk, England, where 2,500 birds died
of the virus. Around 160,000 birds have been culled to prevent the spread of the
disease, according to FAO.
FAO is closely monitoring the situation in Britain
and Hungary, where the virus was confirmed in a flock of geese in January, and
is in contact with national veterinary authorities and the European Commission's
Health and Consumer Protection Directorate.
However, the UN agency warned that greater support
was needed to help countries still struggling to control the virus, such as
Indonesia, Egypt and Nigeria.
"Circulation of the H5N1 virus can be reduced in
poultry if decisive action is taken at the highest political level, applying
appropriate surveillance and virus detection, as well as control tools,
including vaccination, and providing necessary material and financial support,"
said FAO Chief Veterinary Officer Joseph Domenech.
FAO has sent a team from its Crisis Management Center
to work with the World Health Organization (WHO) in Nigeria following
confirmation of the first human bird flu fatality in that country last week.
The H5N1 virus was first detected in poultry in
Nigeria in February 2006. Since then, more than 700,000 poultry have died of
bird flu or have been culled in Nigeria. Despite adopting control measures, 19
of the country's 36 states, as well as the Federal Capital Territory, have been
At their annual coordination meeting on global animal
health issues last week in Rome, senior officials of FAO, the World Organization
for Animal Health (OIE) and WHO expressed serious concerns that the substantial
progress made in many parts of the world against avian influenza is being
jeopardized by insufficiently determined and inadequately funded action in a few
countries where the virus continues to circulate.
"Globally, the situation is better than it was three
years ago, but the recent revival of outbreaks in some countries shows that
there is no cause for complacency," said Domenech.
He added that "The virus is still circulating in
parts of the world and thus national veterinary services have to remain on
constant alert because of the risk of reintroduction of the virus."