Caucasus and Balkans at high risk for H5N1

23-08-2006 | |

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 (FAO).

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 flu 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 Côte 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 Ogun.
“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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