Update: Israelis and Palestinian veterinarians fight AI together

12-12-2006 | | |

The need for cooperation became clear in March when an outbreak of avian flu was discovered at nine locations in Israel, followed three days later by eight cases of the flu in the Palestinian Autonomy.

Four veterinarians from Gaza spent five days at The Israeli Agriculture Ministry‘s Division of Avian Diseases laboratories near Tel Aviv, studying techniques for diagnosing and dealing with avian flu. The working of the Palestinian team was the result of an ongoing relationship between the two sides that has weathered all the ups and down of the last 12 years, according to Dr. Said Sayem, from Gaza’s Veterinarian Services, who was accompanied on the visit last week by Dr. Nael Qudai, Dr. Ashraf Eduan and Dr. Mahmoud Manama.
“We have been working together since the founding of the Palestinian Autonomy. We have an excellent professional relationship. Politics don’t get in our way,” Sayem said, adding that sometimes things don’t always go smoothly.
One of the areas on which Sayem and his colleagues focused with their Israeli counterparts was how to operate a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) unit. This involves a technique which is used to amplify the number of copies of a specific region of DNA, in order to produce enough DNA to be adequately tested. The method can be used to identify very high-probability, disease-causing viruses and/or bacteria and plays a major role in identifying the incidence of avian flu around the world.
“Geographical borders mean nothing to diseases, and birds,” said Israeli lab head Dr. Shimon Perk who led the Palestinian delegation in their training. “I’m not a politician, but neither is this disease. It doesn’t differentiate between Palestinians and Israelis.”


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