June 15, 2011

 

 H5N1 avian influenza, other strains still pose threats

posted May 31, 2011  
 

Eliminating H5N1 highly pathogenic avian influenza from poultry in the six countries where the virus is endemic will take 10 or more years, according to a report that the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization released in April.

Also in April, a working group of member states of the World Health Organization agreed on a framework to ensure that countries will share samples of influenza viruses.

In 2006, 60 countries reported the presence of H5N1 HPAI, according to the new FAO report. The report examines factors behind the strain being endemic currently in Bangladesh, China, Egypt, India, Indonesia, and Vietnam and suggests measures to move toward virus elimination.

"The recommendations, which are based on lessons learned over the last seven years, are tailored to account for local differences in the poultry sector of each country, the stage of development of the country's H5N1 HPAI program, and national sociopolitical characteristics," said Dr. Juan Lubroth, FAO chief veterinary officer.

The recent agreement on sharing of influenza virus samples will position the world to respond better to seasonal influenza and pandemic threats such as H5N1 HPAI, according to the WHO.

"The framework provides a much more coherent and unified global approach for ensuring that influenza viruses are available to the WHO system for monitoring and development of critical benefits such as vaccines, antiviral drugs, and scientific information, while, at the same time, ensuring more equitable access to these benefits by developing countries," said Keiji Fukuda, MD, WHO assistant director-general of health security and environment.