Thursday, October 25, 2007

H5N1 may become endemic in parts of Europe

After German scientists discovered the H5N1 virus in dead domestic ducks, experts are recommending that Europe prepare for future outbreaks of avian influenza. If it persists in wild waterfowl throughout the year, Europe could become the third continent where the H5N1 strain is endemic. "It could well be that there is more virus circulation in Europe than currently assumed," said Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) senior animal health officer Jan Slingenbergh.

"FAO veterinary experts said they were particularly concerned about the Black Sea area where a high concentration of chickens, ducks and geese is comparable with virus-entrenched Asia.
Experts urged the European countries to boost their H5N1 monitoring and surveillance schemes in all regions with big duck and geese production."

"We are not saying that the virus is widely spread in European countries, in fact most of the countries are currently virus-free. But undetected localised virus spots in countries with significant waterfowl may pose a continuous risk."

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