EU to expand AI monitoring in Asia, Africa
The European Union will expand monitoring of wild birds
during migration seasons to help protect the region against the potential spread
of bird flu.
"The EU has had quite a wide screening programme running for years already
but we are going to increase that to screen migratory birds during the season
both in Europe and at places where the birds migrate to Europe like Asia and
Africa," Osterhaus said.
"Many European countries, which lie on migratory bird routes will
participate," he said.
The new project, which will be funded by the EU, is in the final stage of
negotiations and would soon be implemented, he said. It will involve
ornithologists, virologists and data managers.
Europe is on alert to protect poultry from bird
this autumn as billions of birds are beginning their seasonal migration
to African wintering grounds, raising fears the H5N1 strain could return to
Migration routes are complex but can take wildfowl from Asia to Russia
where they come into contact with others that then fly south across eastern and
central Europe to Africa.
Scientists have suggested that migratory birds play an important role in
the spread of the deadly H5N1 virus, which originated in Asia and has killed 148 people worldwide so far
They fear that H5N1 could mutate into a form easily spread between humans,
sparking a worldwide pandemic and killing millions of people.
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