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Bird Flu Remains Dangerous, Preparations Needed


New Member
Nov 10, 2004
The bird flu virus remains as dangerous as ever and nations must do more to prepare for a pandemic among humans, United Nations agencies said at a conference on the deadly disease.

Although the avian influenza virus has not mutated to become easily spread among people, the risk of a pandemic is not receding, said Dr. Shigeru Omi, the World Health Organisation's (WHO) western Pacific regional director.

"(The virus) remains as unstable, unpredictable and versatile as ever. Judging by its performance to date we need to be on constant alert for surprises," he said in an opening address to the three-day meeting.

The H5N1 virus "has so far resisted all attempts to dislodge it from the environment and remains endemic across large parts of the region. It has now infected more than 100 people, killing more than half of them," he said.

Omi said that in a sign of its tenacity, the virus reappeared in China last month, killing 6,000 migratory birds. And Indonesia has reported what is believed to be its first human victim, although tests are inconclusive.

"(In Vietnam) there have been roughly twice as many human cases this year as last year.... In our view, Vietnam is now chronically infected."

Despite the dangers, Omi said there was time to prevent further spread of the disease. "But countries must also get ready for the worst. This means they must speed up their work on pandemic preparedness."

The WHO director noted that 44 human cases of bird flu were reported in Asia in the whole of 2004, but already this year 64 cases had emerged.

"We are now at the tipping point where we need an all out war on the virus," he said, calling for renewed efforts to research and control the disease.

More.... http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/english/doc/2...tent_456979.htm