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UN: Bird flu endemic in Indonesia JAKARTA - Avian influenza is now endemic in Indonesia because of past delays in dealing with H5N1 bird flu, with the virus now well established and a major concern in SouthEast Asia, says an Australian veterinary scientist. But Laurence Gleeson, a regional manager with the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) and other UN officials, were positive over steps taken to control bird flu in SouthEast Asia when speaking to reporters today.

"If you want to compare that situation with what existed in 2004; I mean there was a galloping epidemic in 2004 but that's not the situation today," Mr Gleeson said today, as Indonesia reported its 62nd death from bird flu. In recent weeks Indonesia reported the deaths of four more people from avian flu - taking its toll to over 60, from a global death total of 161 out of 267 confirmed cases.

Today the FAO reported new flare-ups of avian flu in China, Egypt, Indonesia, Japan, Nigeria, South Korea, Thailand and Vietnam. But officials stressed the numbers of outbreaks in 2007 were significantly lower that the epidemic waves of the last year. Officials say the Asia region is better prepared to deal with outbreaks of the virus than in the past.

"Where the virus is occurring in mainland SouthEast Asia I would say that the outbreaks are under control from the sense that if they do occur the resources are there to deal with them," Mr Gleeson said. The World Health Organisation has warned of a resurgence in the virus during the current northern winter and cool season through SouthEast Asia.

Mr Gleeson pointed to Indonesia as a key country of concern. Also complicating the situation was that the disease became fairly well established in Indonesia before any action was taken to control it, he said. International calls for massive poultry culls in affected areas of Indonesia were initially overlooked or avoided because of economic impacts on largely poor poultry farmers.

"The situation in Indonesia is more concerning because of the size of the problem and of the nature of the production system in which there is a lot of virus circulating that is in the high density backyard chicken populations in Java and Sumatra," he said. "The situation in Indonesia is probably the most complex one in the region." Large free range poultry populations added to the problems so that introducing any sort of disease control program under such circumstances or in such a group of animals is quite difficult, he said.

Juan Lubroth, a senior FAO officer in the animal health service, said another positive factor has been the stability of the H5N1 virus since 2004. Health officials remain fearful if the avian flu mutates into a form easily transmittable from human to human it could trigger a global flu pandemic. Avian flu re-emerged in Asia in late 2003 and spread outside the region in 2005/06 from East Asia to Siberia, Eastern Europe, the Middle East and Africa - leading to more than 40 countries being affected.

Mr Lubroth said the recent outbreaks followed seasonal patterns and were not unexpected. "But we need to remain on alert as the recent outbreaks show. It is crucial that countries themselves step up there surveillance, detection and rapid response measures," he said.


Link to related event Related event:
Bird flu in Indonesia

Related blog entries (category 'Bird Flu') Related blog entries (category 'Bird Flu'):
21 January 2007 · Jakarta residents line up for free meat; mass poultry culls
20 January 2007 · Bird flu claims 62nd human life in West Java
18 January 2007 · Indonesia makes new efforts to curb spread of bird flu
17 January 2007 · Indonesia braces as bird flu flares anew in Asia in winter
15 January 2007 · Faster diagnostic kits in Indonesia only in March


Posted in Bird Flu @ 24 January 2007 09:20 CET by Jeroen · 'Blog' RSS feed · permalink






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