Experts meet in Africa to discuss avian influenza

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Representatives from countries around the globe gathered in Africa this past December for the Fourth International Conference on Avian Influenza. The African Union and the Government of Mali, in conjunction with the European Union, hosted the event.

Highly pathogenic avian influenza was first detected in Africa in February 2006. According to the African Union/Interafrican Bureau for Animal Resources, eight African countries have reported the virus, with 95 percent of the outbreaks occurring in Egypt and Nigeria. Reportedly, at least 10 people have died in Egypt from the disease.

The goal of the conference was to assess programs to counter the threat of avian and pandemic influenza and to boost financial support for preparedness and response efforts worldwide.

Within the past year, avian influenza in poultry has spread from 14 countries to 55, said Ambassador John E. Lange, special representative on avian and pandemic influenza, U.S. Department of State. Along with Lange, the U.S. delegation included representatives from the U.S. Agency for International Development, Department of Agriculture's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, and the Department of Health and Human Services' International Influenza Unit.

These organizations are heavily involved in the international fight against the disease. Log on to and to learn more about U.S. efforts.

To learn more about the Fourth International Conference on Avian Influenza, log on to