Bird flu poses a longer-term threat
The bird flu crisis is likely to be a continuing emergency that will
last several years and inflict 'tremendous damage' to bird populations, and
domestic poultry in particular, the United Nations Food and Agriculture
Organisation has warned.
The Rome-based agency said in a statement: "The rapid
spread of the disease means that FAO now needs $308 million for its contribution
to the global programme for the progressive control of avian influenza over the
next three years - more than twice the sum required a few months ago. To date,
FAO has only received $71 million."
FAO is concerned that the
international focus on the possibility of a human pandemic means that people are
neglecting its potentially devastating impact on animals. This fails to
recognize that the best way to protect people is to control and try to eradicate
the disease in animals.
There have so far been 217 human cases, 123
of them fatal, ascribed to contact with infected birds. In many countries, fear
of infection is leading consumers to shy away from poultry, throwing the
multimillion dollar poultry industry into crisis.
FAO stresses that
the international fight against bird flu must start with increased surveillance
of poultry and other animals, followed by rapid reporting of any outbreaks and
strict measures to limit its spread through culling, secure disposal of sick
animals and the control of movements of animals and products.
urges farmers, traders, and all others in close contact with poultry to be
particularly careful about basic hygienic standards and to tighten bio-security
on the farm. The movement of poultry to and from markets, and of people involved
in production and marketing, are the main spreaders of the disease to previously
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