"The detection of bird flu in
"The Middle East and northern African countries should be able to build up a line of defense against avian influenza. FAO is more concerned about the situation in Eastern Africa, where veterinary services, due to various constraints, should have more difficulties to run efficient bird flu campaigns based on slaughtering infected animals and vaccination," Domenech said. "The countries concerned and the international community have to make every effort to ensure that bird flu does not become endemic in Africa."
"If the virus were to become endemic in eastern Africa, it could increase the risk of the virus to evolve through mutation or re-assortment into a strain that could be transmitted to and between humans," Domenech said. "The close proximity between people and animals and insufficient surveillance and disease control capacities in eastern African countries create an ideal breeding ground for the virus. The countries urgently need international assistance to build up basic surveillance and control systems."
FAO will assist countries in Africa to strengthen the surveillance on wild and domestic birds and improve laboratory capacities in order to early detect any bird flu outbreak.
The bird flu risk to European countries due to wild birds is relatively low at present, according to FAO. However, there is a significant risk that migratory birds could carry the disease to western and northern Europe next spring if wild bird populations are infected during their stay in southern regions. Veterinary services in Europe are very efficient and strong surveillance and disease control measures are in place to face this risk.
"It is crucial to remind that the epicenter of the disease currently remains in southeast Asia where the virus continues to circulate in several countries and where a pandemic could finally start if the control of the disease in animals is not successful," Domenech said.
Source: Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations