The UN official in charge of coordinating efforts to stop the spread of avian influenza says progress is being made. But David Nabarro says the threat continues. From VOA's New York Bureau, correspondent Barbara Schoetzau has the story by VOA Intern Maha Saad.

Nabarro says the global situation is improving due to increased vigilance. He says nations have invested heavily in the way poultry is reared to reduce the threat of avian influenza. Nabarro also cites an increased understanding of the link between animal and human diseases.

"There has been an extraordinary global response to the bird flu enzootic [endemic]. The current highly pathogenic bird flu virus does seem to be being brought under control reasonably well. It is not perfect. It could still come back up at any time if we do not watch it, but I am saying there is good work being done," he said.

Nabarro praises various efforts made by governments around the world to combat the virus. Furthermore, Nabarro says donations from pharmaceutical companies are helping to build a global stockpile of vaccine in case of an avian flu pandemic.
"We do feel that it is prudent to continue to be prepared, especially as genetic studies of the current bird flu virus show that it is continuously evolving," he said.

Despite the improved overall situation, Nabarro says the disease remains entrenched in five nations.

"At the beginning of this year, we were still seeing outbreaks of highly pathogenic avian influenza among poultry, but particularly in countries where the virus has become entrenched. That is, Indonesia, Vietnam, Bangladesh, Egypt. During this year, we had a particularly serious group of outbreaks in India," he said.

Nabarro urges that nations put into place pandemic preparedness exercises.