Published Date: 2004-01-27 23:50:00
Subject: PRO/AH> Avian influenza - Eastern Asia (10): FAO/WHO/OIE
Archive Number: 20040127.0325
AVIAN INFLUENZA - EASTERN ASIA (10): FAO/WHO/OIE
A ProMED-mail post
ProMED-mail is a program of the
International Society for Infectious Diseases
Date: 27 Jan 2004
From: ProMED-mail <email@example.com>
Source: Office International des Epizooties(OIE), Disease Information
FAO/WHO/OIE call for international assistance
The spread of highly pathogenic avian influenza in several areas in Asia is a
threat to human health and a disaster for agricultural production, the U.N.
Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the World Organisation for Animal
Health (OIE) and the World Health Organization (WHO) said in a joint
Although it has not happened yet, the so-called "bird flu" presents a risk
of evolving into an efficient and dangerous human pathogen, the 3 agencies
The possible widespread occurrence of avian flu in animals in developing
countries represents a significant control challenge. FAO, OIE and WHO
appealed to donors to address the global threat from avian flu and to provide
funds and technical assistance to countries to help eliminate this threat.
"With SARS, we learned that only by working together can we control emerging
global public health threats," said Dr. Lee Jong-wook, WHO Director-
General "Now, we confront another threat to human health and we must reaffirm
existing collaboration and form new ones. At the international level, WHO,
FAO and OIE stand together in close working relationship to provide the
necessary guidance to Member States."
Highly pathogenic avian influenza is a threat to public health because, if
it circulates long enough in humans and farm animals, there is an increased
risk that it may evolve into a pandemic influenza strain which could cause
disease worldwide. In addition, avian influenza is an economic disaster for
the poultry industry as well as small poultry farmers.
The focus of FAO, OIE and WHO activities is to avert a human and animal
pandemic. "We have a brief window of opportunity before us to eliminate that
threat," said Dr. Jacques Diouf, FAO Director-General. "Farmers in affected
areas urgently need to kill infected and exposed animals and require support
to compensate for such losses. This will represent a huge cost, especially to
struggling economies and small farmers. The international community has a
stake in the success of these efforts and poorer nations will need help," Dr.
FAO and OIE also called for a tight and effective control of animal movement
in affected areas. Farm workers need to be protected during the culling
operations by wearing protective clothing. In addition, vaccines need to be
supplied. Farmers,especially backyard farmers, need to be supported for
losses that will surely be significant.
The threat from avian influenza is well understood. Unlike SARS, diagnostic
tests already exist, as do effective, although costly, antivirals for humans.
While it is challenging, research is already well under way on the
development of a human vaccine against this strain.
"This is a serious global threat to human health," said WHO's Dr. Lee Jong-
wook. "But we have faced several emerging infectious diseases in the past.
This time, we face something we can possibly control before it reaches global
proportions if we work cooperatively and share needed resources. We must
begin this hard, costly work now."
[I have never heard words more true. I just hope, for the sake of all of
us, the appropriate people listen. - Mod. PC]