Caucasus and Balkans at high risk for H5N1
Despite numerous successful efforts in several countries to contain
the spread of the virus, the deadly H5N1 avian influenza virus, or bird flu,
continues to threaten people, animals and economies in a growing number of
countries, according to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization
Though the disease has now been confirmed in some 55
countries in Africa, Asia and Europe, up from 45 in April this year, the rate of
infection among poultry has slowed in most countries, according to FAO
surveillance reports, thanks to programmes and projects to improve surveillance
efforts, strengthen veterinary services and in some cases through the
implementation of vaccination campaigns.
The deadly bird
virus continues to spread in Asia, particularly in Indonesia where 46
people were confirmed
by the WHO
to have died from bird flu. There
have also been new outbreaks in Thailand recently and HPAI has been confirmed at
a commercial poultry farm in Laos.
HPAI is also problematic in some African countries including CÃ´te d'Ivoire
and Nigeria, where FAO's Emergency Prevention System reports outbreaks in
poultry farms near Abeokuta, the capital of Nigeria's southwestern state of
"In Europe, we believe the southern Balkan area and Caucasus are a
high-risk region for H5N1," said Juan Lubroth, head of FAO's Emergency
Prevention System for Transboundary Animal Diseases. "The region is not only a
prime resting ground for migratory bird species, but poultry production is
mostly characterised by rural and household husbandry with little in terms of
biosecurity and strong regulatory inspection. In Romania it is still too early
to say if the situation has stabilised."
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