News / Africa

Despite Success Against Avian Flu, H5N1 Virus Remains Entrenched in 5 Countries

Multimedia

Audio
Joe DeCapua

U.N. officials say over the past four years, great strides have been made in many countries in eliminating the H5N1 virus, or avian flu.  Nevertheless, the threat remains.

The Food and Agriculture Organization says a “concerted international effort “has rid the virus from poultry in almost all the countries it infected at the peak of its outbreak in 2006.  But, it remains entrenched in Egypt, Indonesia, Bangladesh, Vietnam and China.

Over the years, the disease has forced the culling of 260 million birds and caused $20 billion in economic damage.  H5N1 is blamed for 292 human deaths.

Successes and failures

Avian flu is one of the subjects being discussed at the International Ministerial Conference on Animal and Pandemic Influenza, underway in Hanoi.

Ducks have also been victims of bird flu
Ducks have also been victims of bird flu

Dr. Juan Lubroth, the FAO’s chief veterinary officer, is attending the conference in the Vietnamese capital.

If we look at the situation as it was in 2004, 2005 and 2006, we were on the increase, with many countries reporting outbreaks both in poultry and in human cases,” he says.

“If we look at the last couple of years and now in 2010, of the 63 or so countries and areas, we really only have a problem of H5N1 still in circulation in five countries or regions where the virus is entrenched in the poultry population.”

Intervention measures have been “insufficient” in certain areas, says Lubroth.

“What I mean by entrenched -- it’s already endemic.  There is a transmission cycle that seems to reappear every year or at least twice a year in… November, December through March and then maybe a smaller peak that we have seen in June or July,” he says.

Egypt

The entrenchment of H5N1 in Egypt may stem from the way poultry has been traditionally produced and marketed over the centuries.

Also he says, “The dense population in Egypt…particularly in Lower Egypt with the huge metropolis that is Cairo, I think tends to maintain that virus.  And intervention measures by either the central government veterinary services or the local veterinary services have not been able to stop movement of the virus.”

He says as a result of the lack of strict animal farming and production regulations over recent decades “the intensity of infection is maintained.”

“Recognizing that in Egypt, poultry is perhaps the most common or accessible type of meat available to the population,” he says.

Asia

The FAO official says, “I think the reasons are a bit different, but we still have to look at some common denominators – production and marketing.  So, there are some risk factors that we still have not quite identified.  And if we had sufficient amount of funding, we would be able to devote more time in the field to try to identify what are these critical control points and intervene appropriately.”

Risk of epidemic

Despite the relatively low number of deaths from avian flu, health officials have long feared it would jump to the human population and spread quickly.

Despite Success Against Avian Flu, H5N1 Virus Remains Entrenched in 5 Countries
Despite Success Against Avian Flu, H5N1 Virus Remains Entrenched in 5 Countries

“The risk of the H5N1 becoming a human pandemic is real.  The more problems that we have at the poultry level, the more the risk is that it will spill over to humans.  And if it acquires the ability to have human to human transmission, then we could have a pandemic on our hands,” he says.

He says if that happened, H5N1 would spread very quickly around the world, similarly to what happened with H1N1, the so-called swine flu.

“However,” he says, “the H1N1 was very, very mild.  H5N1 in humans is a big killer disease.”

In addressing the conference in Hanoi, Lubroth said the world must stop “hopping from one crisis to another,” and instead to a better job of forecasting and monitoring the “drivers” that promote disease.  

You May Like

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. More

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

Dropout rate at an all-time high in South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during 3-year civil war More

Tennessee Songbirds Fly Coop Long Before Tornadoes Arrive

Researchers say birds apparently alerted to danger by sounds at frequencies below range of human hearing More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacksi
X
December 19, 2014 12:45 AM
The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. VOA reporter Ayaz Gul visited the devastated school and attended the funeral of the principal who courageously tried to save her students from the deadly attack.
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Putin Says Russian Economy Will Emerge Stronger

Russian President Vladimir Putin has said his country's sinking economy will not only recover but also become stronger, despite falling oil prices and Western sanctions over Ukraine. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Detained Turkish Journalists Follow Teachings of US-Based Preacher

The Turkish government’s jailing of critical journalists has sparked international condemnation and is being seen as an effort to undermine the followers of an ailing Turkish preacher based in the United States. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video ‘Anti-Islamization’ Marches Increase Tensions In Germany

Anti-immigrant rallies in Germany have been building in recent weeks, peaking Monday night in the city of Dresden where tens of thousands of people turned out to demonstrate against what they call the ‘Islamization’ of the West. Germany has offered asylum to more Syrian refugees than any other country, and this appears to have set off the protests. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.
Video

Video Refugees Living in Kenya Long for Peace in the Home Countries

Kenya is host to numerous refugees seeking safe haven from conflict. Immigrants from Somalia face challenges in their new lives in Kenya. Ahead of International Migrants Day (December 18) Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.

All About America

AppleAndroid