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Bird flu viruses could re-emerge

Staff writer |
FAO has issued a new warning to the international community that the H7N9 and H5N1 avian influenza viruses continue to pose serious threats to human and animal health, especially in view of the upcoming flu season.

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"The world is more prepared than ever before to respond to bird flu viruses in light of a decade of work on H5N1 and the recent response to H7N9," said FAO Chief Veterinary Officer Juan Lubroth at a joint meeting with United States Agency for International Development (USAID), the World Health Organization (WHO) and the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE).

Heads of FAO Reference Centres, in Australia, the People's Republic of China, Italy and the United States of America were also in attendance, along with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the United States Department of Agriculture.

"However, constant vigilance is required. Bird flu viruses continue to circulate in poultry. Efforts must continue and be strengthened, not only in affected countries, but also in neighbouring states and areas with strong trade linkages. This is especially true for H7N9 since it causes no clinical signs in birds and is therefore very difficult to detect in poultry," Mr. Lubroth said.

Along these lines, FAO has committed $2 million of emergency funding supplemented by over $5 million from USAID to kick-start H7N9 response efforts. USAID support has enabled FAO to help countries at risk dramatically improve surveillance capacities.


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