Bird flu threat persists in Bangladesh (Lead)

April 16th, 2010 - 8:05 pm ICT by IANS  

Rome, April 16 (IANS/AKI) The deadly H5N1 avian flu virus or bird flu persists in five countries including Bangladesh, posing a threat to global animal and human health.
The UN Food and Agriculture Organisation’s chief veterinary officer, Juan Lubroth, said the virus remained in Bangladesh, Egypt, Indonesia, Vietnam and China despite its eradication in 63 countries.

“The progressive control of H5N1 in such countries remains an international priority,” he said. “Though public attention shifted to the H1N1 influenza pandemic for most of 2009, H5N1 (is) a serious menace.”

The UN official was speaking ahead of an international conference on animal and pandemic influenza to be held in Vietnam Monday.

“We should not forget that (bird flu) has killed 292 humans, killed or forced the culling of more than 260 million birds, caused an estimated 20 billion dollars of economic damage across the globe and devastated livelihoods at the family-farm level,” he said in a statement.

“As long as it is present in even one country, there is still a public health risk to be taken seriously.”

The H5N1 strain of avian influenza remains established in places where tens of millions of domestic ducks are found and there is significant industrial broiler production.

The H5N1 virus was first shown to have passed from birds to humans in 1997, during an outbreak of avian influenza among poultry in Hong Kong.

More than 90 percent of birds who get H5N1 die, and mortality among humans is also high.

–IANS/AKI

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