FAO seeks more funds for avian flu; Denmark confirms outbreak

May 19, 2006 (CIDRAP News) – The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) said today it needs $308 million to fight avian influenza over the next 3 years, more than twice the amount estimated a few months ago.

The announcement came as Denmark confirmed its first H5N1 avian influenza outbreak in domestic poultry. In initial reports yesterday, officials said the virus had been identified only as an H5.

The FAO said, "The rapid spread of the disease means that FAO now needs $308 million for its contribution to the global programme for the progressive control of avian influenza over the next three years—more than twice the sum required a few months ago. To date, FAO has only received $71 million."

The agency said it is worried that international attention is focused almost wholly on the threat of avian flu in humans, "to the neglect of its potentially devastating impact on poultry and other animals." Joseph Domenech, the FAO's chief veterinary officer, said this attitude ignores the fact that the best way to protect people is to control the disease in animals.

The statement said the battle against avian flu must begin with monitoring of poultry and other animals, rapid reporting of any outbreaks, culling and disposal of sick animals, and controlling movements of animals and products.

Weighing in on the controversy over wild versus domestic birds as spreaders of avian flu, the FAO also said, "The movement of poultry to and from markets, and people involved in poultry production and marketing, are the main spreaders of the disease to previously unaffected areas." Hence, farmers and all others who work with poultry should be careful to maintain hygiene and biosecurity measures, the statement added.

The role of wild birds in spreading avian flu is the topic of a conference scheduled May 30 and 31 in Rome. The FAO is organizing the conference in cooperation with the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE).

Of the $71 million the FAO has received for the avian flu battle so far, the agency said, it has spent more than $20 million supplying goods and services to 87 countries. That includes almost $10 million for laboratory and veterinary supplies and equipment; more than $6 million for human resources, including veterinarians and other experts; almost $1.5 million for training in laboratory, epidemiology, and wildlife activities; over $500 000 for diagnostic activities and field epidemiologic studies; and $2 million for general operating expenses.

In Denmark, authorities today confirmed that an illness in one poultry flock near Kerteminde in the central part of the country was H5N1, according to Agence France-Presse (AFP) and the OIE.

A Danish report to the OIE said there were 47 cases among 102 birds in the flock. After the Danish Institute for Food and Veterinary Research confirmed the presence of H5N1, the surviving birds were destroyed, the report said.

The owner of the farm contacted authorities when 10 of his chickens suddenly died, according to the AFP report. It said Denmark has had 47 H5N1 cases in wild birds since March.

In Romania, another person has been arrested in connection with the reported spread of avian flu from a large poultry farm, according to another AFP report today. Local prosecutors said the manager of the Drakom Silva farm in Codlea was arrested on charges of allowing the sale of chickens possibly infected with lethal avian flu, AFP reported.

The farm's veterinarian and its owner were both arrested 2 days ago, as was the owner of another poultry farm in the same town, the story said.

In other news, Russian officials reported finding new cases of H5N1 avian flu in a few birds near Omsk in Siberia, according to AFP.

Nikolai Vlassov, deputy head of veterinary services, said two villages in the area had been placed under quarantine but that there was "no longer any trace" of the virus in other parts of the country. Avian flu first appeared in Siberia last summer and subsequently spread to several other parts of Russia.

See also:

May 19 FAO statement

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