Bird Flu Virus Still Not Under Control in Asia


WASHINGTON and BANGKOK, Thailand -- The spread of

the avian influenza virus in several Asian countries is still not under

control, according to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).

Cambodia, China, Indonesia and Laos continue to report new outbreaks in

poultry, the FAO said today. Thailand has reported no new outbreaks.

The FAO has called upon countries to remain vigilant as further outbreaks continue

to occur. To date, around 80 million chickens have been culled to battle the

disease, excluding China (Indonesia 15 million, Thailand 30 million, Viet Nam

30 million, Pakistan 4 million).

The cooperation with countries affected by bird flu has significantly

improved. Countries realize that cooperation and transparency are absolutely

essential in the fight against bird flu, the FAO said. While China, Indonesia, Thailand and Viet Nam have set up information and response structures, the situation remains very difficult in some of the affected countries. Especially in poorer countries, the emergency response has been slow due to the lack of resources such as qualified veterinary staff, diagnostic tools and transport. In addition, the urgently required administrative and political structures to run an effective emergency campaign are often not yet in place.

The FAO also suggested that the coordination of donor assistance and the

increased provision of emergency inputs should be better. It should be

ensured that funds reach the target beneficiaries, the FAO added.

Veterinarians from more than 20 countries will meet from Feb. 26-28, 2004

in Bangkok to discuss the economic impact of the avian flu crisis, strategies

to control the disease, including emergency measures, and how to restore

poultry industries and improve regional cooperation. Hosted by the Thai Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives, the meeting is jointly organized by FAO and OIE, with support from WHO.

Source: UN Food and Agriculture Organization

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