Bird flu crisis of 'global importance,' UN agency warns

27 September 2004

The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) today warned that the bird flu epidemic in Asia is a "crisis of global importance," and predicted that the virus, which continues to circulate in the region, will probably not be eradicated in the near future.

In a joint statement with the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE), FAO said the avian influenza problem will continue to demand the attention of the international community for some time to come. The two agencies called for more research into the role wildlife, domestic ducks and pigs have in transmitting the virus among animals, and warned that a permanent threat to animal and human health continues to exist.

While much progress has been made in early detection and reaction, countries still need to step up proactive surveillance and control measures, the agencies said, calling for major investments to strengthen veterinary services, in particular for surveillance, early warning, detection, reporting and response. They also advocated the rehabilitation and restructuring of the poultry sector.

In response to recent controversies on vaccinations against bird flu, OIE and FAO reiterated that the slaughter of infected animals is the best way of controlling and ultimately stamping out the disease.

The two agencies stressed that vaccines, if used, should be produced in accordance with the international guidelines.


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