Jul 14, 2006 (CIDRAP News) The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) announced today that a new animal disease crisis management center will begin operating in late July at FAO headquarters in Rome, with an initial focus on H5N1 avian influenza.
The facility will be run by the FAO in close collaboration with the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE), according to a joint press release from the USDA and FAO. Specialists at the center will provide disease analysis and information and will dispatch resources to prevent and manage dangerous animal diseases. Experts there will also collaborate with the World Health Organization.
The United States will provide $1.8 million, and the USDA is sending four veterinarians to help launch the new center, officials said. France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom will also contribute to the center. The announcement gave no details on the center's staff size or budget.
"All nations will benefit as we work to reduce the risk and spread of highly pathogenic H5N1 avian influenza," said USDA Secretary Mike Johanns. "The international community has a responsibility to equip countries, especially developing countries, with the expertise and resources necessary for a rapid and effective response to any possible animal disease outbreak."
Samuel Jutzi, head of the FAOs Animal Production and Health Division, said the crisis center will boost the effectiveness of the FAO's current operations related to avian flu, which is especially important now that the H5N1 virus is present in at least 32 countries.