FAO today expressed confidence in the capacity of authorities in
the United Kingdom to adequately respond to the recent outbreak of
H5N1 avian influenza at a commercial turkey farm there.
British authorities are still trying to determine the source of
the outbreak at a 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.
FAO is closely monitoring the situation in the UK 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.
The U.N. agency warned, however, 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
Team heads to Nigeria
FAO has sent a team from its Crisis Management Centre 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 team will meet with health, agriculture and other officials
to evaluate the situation and ensure that appropriate food safety
messages are disseminated to educate the public and to avoid panic.
The objective is to provide realistic recommendations for those
at highest risk of exposure to potentially infected birds, including
those involved in the slaughter and processing of poultry.
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 been culled in Nigeria. Despite control measures, 19 of the
country’s 36 states, as well as the Federal Capital Territory,
have been affected.
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. “The
virus is still circulating in parts of the world and national veterinary
services have to remain on constant alert because of the risk of
reintroduction of the virus.”
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