Smuggling spreads AI strains through Asia
Smuggled poultry is likely to blame for the presence of a Chinese
strain of bird flu in Thailand and Laos, which was partly responsible for recent
outbreaks in those countries, according to the UN Food and Agriculture
The presence of the strain, which had been unique to southern China, was
confirmed in poultry outbreaks that occurred last month in the northeastern Thai
province of Nakhon Phanom and the Laotian capital of Vientiane, the FAO in
Bangkok said in a statement.
"We are aware that there is a lot of trade still going on, mainly smuggling,
of course, of chicken and poultry products," said Diderik de Vleeschauwer, FAO
spokesman in Bangkok.
"The movement and trade of animals and poultry products is the main reason
for the spreading of disease." He added that migratory birds are not to blame
because they are not on the move in Southeast Asia this time of year.
The samples have been sent to an international reference laboratory in
Australia for further analysis. The FAO also warned countries in the region to step up awareness
and surveillance as more outbreaks surface in other countries.
"Continuing outbreaks in China, recurrence in Cambodia, Laos and Thailand,
and the steady march of the disease in Indonesia, underline the need for
heightened vigilance in other Asian countries," He Changchui, FAO's regional
representative for the Asia-Pacific, said in a statement.
flu re-emerged in Thailand last month for the first time this year, and Laos
reported its first outbreak in more than two years.
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