Effect Measure

FAO: Worry, don’t worry, worry

Bird flu is a disease of birds, so how are the birds doing this year? If you just read the headlines, you might be a bit confused. Unfortunately reading the stories won’t clear things up:

Many global bird flu outbreaks unreported -FAO

Many countries are doing a better job fighting the H5N1 bird flu virus, yet many outbreaks are not reported, Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) officials said on Tuesday.


“So far, many countries have managed to progressively control the virus and the global situation has improved tremendously,” Juan Lubroth, a senior FAO infectious diseases official, told a news conference.

“Unfortunately, at the global scale, many outbreaks remain under reported or unreported. National or international bodies are often not in a position to immediately verify rumours or reports about unconfirmed outbreaks,” Lubroth said. (Reuters)

Hmmm. They’re doing better but we don’t know how well they are doing because thy aren’t reporting everything. I could be a bit more comforted. Maybe I’ll read this, instead:

Bird flu back in Asia but less so, says FAO

Recent outbreaks of avian influenza suggest the virus is “somewhat endemic” to Asia and will be around for several more years, despite a dramatic slowdown in the epidemic globally, Food and Agriculture Organization experts said on Tuesday.

“It will probably take several years to contain and finally eradicate the H5N1 virus from the poultry sector,” said FAO deputy regional representative Hiroyuki Konuma. (German Press Agency)

The support for this optimistic view seems to be that so far the outbreaks have mainly been confined to Asia — China, Indonesia, Japan, South Korea, Thailand and Vietnam. Except for Egypt and Nigeria. But who’s counting. The contrast is with last winter when the virus exploded out of Asia into the Middle East and Africa, with sporadic cases in wild birds and sometimes small carnivores in Europe. So by that standard, things don’t look so bad.

But they are not very good, either. Everyone agrees Indonesia is a bird flu fault zone, with the virus solidly entrenched and endemic in the archipelago nation’s backyard poultry flocks. And it is a bit premature to make judgments for this year in any event. We still have more than half of the bad part of the flu season left and the Tet New Year is coming up in southeast asia and New Year in China, the time when families gather and eat poultry. There is a ton of H5N1 virus out there replicating in animals with close contact with humans. In fact we don’t even know all the animals it may be infecting.

It would be a shame if FAO’s somewhat rosy report were to encourage complacency.

UN urges caution after new bird flu outbreaks

The UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) has warned against complacency after fresh flare-ups of bird flu worldwide, as Thailand reported its second outbreak this year.

Five people in Indonesia have died from the virus since the start of 2007, while China, Egypt, Japan, South Korea, Vietnam, Nigeria and Thailand have all seen a resurgence of the deadly H5N1 strain in poultry and birds this year.

“FAO is concerned about these new flare-ups, demonstrating that the virus continues to persist in Asia as well as other counties,” Hiroyuki Konuma, FAO deputy regional representative for Asia and the Pacific, told reporters Tuesday.

In Thailand, 111 people are being monitored for possible infection after an outbreak in ducks last week, and on Tuesday the Livestock Department confirmed a second outbreak in chickens in the northeast province of Nong Khai.

John Riddle, from the FAO office in Rome, urged the world not to drop its guard against the devastating disease.

“It’s a worry not just to the countries but to the international community,” he told AFP. “It is the time to be exceptionally watchful.” (AFP)

These guys really know how to get their message out. When you figure out what the message is, let me know.


  1. #1 anon
    January 24, 2007

    the problem is, that you can’t be permanently on high alert.
    There are always periods of decreasing alert.
    No matter how often they tell us not to drop the guard,
    not to become complacent.
    Since they won’t tell us, when this time is, we have to make
    our own judgement. And this usually depends on
    how much it is in the news.

  2. #2 crfullmoon
    January 24, 2007

    Educate the public, Educate the People, Educate the producers and consumers

    and tell them the bigger problem will be human pandemic influenza for 1 to 3 years;
    get them preparing, for the almighty Economy’s sake, and the continuity of your own govt positions, if for no other reason.

    Changing peoples’ behavior takes commitment, time, and effort, and the right messages; how about the messages that are good enough for tptb?
    Here’s a message the authorities should have tried from the start:

    “Socializing good bio-security is a much more effective way to deal with bird flu outbreak,” Wasito of Gajah Mada University, veterinary medicine, Yogykarta, Indonesia.

  3. #3 Tom DVM
    January 24, 2007

    H5N1 fell off the radar from 1997 until 2003…did it go away even though there were no REPORTED(China) outbreaks…more or less.

    When it comes to animal pathogens and their complex relationships with nature and environment…it is what you don’t see that can hurt you.

    The bottom line is that this disease is never going to go away…and anyone who says otherwise is scientifically and epidemiologically nieve.

  4. #4 Patch
    January 24, 2007

    Go away, Tom? Probably not. But what it may become, is the question. H1N1 hasn’t gone away either, but we aren’t stocking up food because of it.

  5. #5 Greg
    January 26, 2007

    Genereally, when we get eradicate a species which we know how to live with, the empty ecological niche is invaded by a species which we don’t know how to live with.

  6. #6 Tom DVM
    January 26, 2007


    Don’t bullshit a bullshityer.


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