ROME, Sept. 16 (Xinhua) -- The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) on Monday warned that the H7N9 and H5N1 avian influenza viruses continue to pose serious threats to human and animal health, especially in view of the upcoming flu season.
Though the world is "more prepared than ever before" to respond to bird flu, "constant vigilance is required," FAO Chief Veterinary Officer Juan Lubroth said at a joint meeting with U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), the World Health Organization (WHO) and heads of FAO Reference Laboratories in Australia, China and the U.S.
As bird flu viruses continue to circulate in poultry, "efforts must be strengthened not only in affected countries, but also in neighboring states and areas with strong trade linkages," he added.
FAO has committed 2 million U.S. dollars of emergency funding supplemented by over 5 million U.S. dollars from USAID to kick-start H7N9 response efforts, which has helped countries at risk dramatically improve surveillance capacities.
"The early detection and excellent characterization of the H7N9 virus by Chinese experts has created an unprecedented opportunity to mount a coordinated effort to stop the further spread of the virus," the director of USAID's Emerging Threats Program, Dennis Carroll, highlighted.
However more work is required, FAO and USAID experts said, which especially includes continued surveillance and trace back throughout the production and marketing system. In the longer-term fight against bird flu, all countries must invest in improving the way they market and sell poultry.
"We need keep our eyes on the bigger picture of promoting healthy food systems by developing facilities that employ safety and hygiene measures," Lubroth also added.
"Where appropriate, we need to help governments put together contingency plans for the possible detection of the virus and compensation schemes for assisting those affected by control efforts," he said.