Image Source: www.ilri.org

The strain of bird flu that has infected people in Asia and the Middle East recently is called H5N1. H5N1 is one of the

strains that are dangerous to birds.
The people who became infected with the H5N1 strain of avian flu caught it directly from birds. H5N1 cannot be spread from

person to person. Experts are concerned that the H5N1 strain of bird flu could mutate (change) into a new form that can

spread from person to person. This has happened in past flu outbreaks and has caused what is known as a pandemic. The

symptoms of bird flu in people tend to be similar to the typical flu: fever, cough, sore throat, muscle aches. But this flu

can also lead to eye infections, pneumonia, and severe coughing and breathing problems. Doctors hope that certain antiviral

medications will help keep the flu from spreading if it becomes contagious to humans. These medications can’t cure bird flu,

but they can make the symptoms less severe.

Indonesia Opens Information to WHO

Indonesia has finally decided to help the World Health Organization in its global fight against the bird virus by sharing information on the virus.

Before that, Indonesia decided to stopped sharing information on the said virus in protest for a lack of access to vaccines that were produced by developed countries. The country was then criticized for by health officials and scientific researchers.

“We have always promoted the sharing of influenza data, all we ask for is that it be done in a fair, transparent, and equitable manner,” Supari said of Indonesia’s decision to contribute sequence data to the new database, known as the Global Initiative on Sharing Avian Influenza Data (GISAID), according to the AP report.

With the merging of the information, we hope that a cure be found soon.


15,000 Poultry Culled in Seoul

South Korea’s response to the bird flu maybe considered as extreme but it needs to be done. The country has decided to “disinfect” all poultry farms, the agriculture ministry said last Tuesday.

“The government will take strong steps to stop the spread of bird flu, which is causing enormous damage to our poultry industry,” an agriculture official told AFP.

In the country’s capital, Seoul, 15,000 ducks, chickens, pet birds, and school aviaries are put down to stop the spread of the disease after there was a second confirmed case there. On the nationwide front, 6.8 million fowls have been culled since April 1.

Genetic modification for farm animals?


In a series of European and global initiatives, genetic modification (GM) and RNA interference are being deployed for the improvement of farm animal health. A recent workshop organized by the European Science Foundation (ESF) highlighted various themes on livestock disease research, epidemics and pandemics and GM technologies and the negative perception of the public.

GM provides resistance to diseases which will benefit animal and human health. However, this technology was deployed too soon which benefited interested parties, excluding the consumers. Ethical issues have to be addressed, and public confidence has to be restored. Various GM technologies have been developed for livestock, and RNA interference focuses more on preventing animals from contracting viruses such as bird flu.

Programme Initiatives: EMPRES


The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations have programmes to ensure food and agriculture safety in member countries, one of which is the Emergency Prevention System for Transboundary Animal and Plant Pests and Diseases or EMPRES.

Their aim is to protect livestock against diseases, and preventing the spread of diseases if it exists. It provides information, training and emergency assistance to countries that are facing the challenges of an outbreak, like the avian flu. EMPRES aims to prevent the spread of diseases by identifying the source and solving the problem from its roots. The core principles of EMPRES are: Early warning, Early detection, Early reaction, Enabling research, Coordination, and Communication.

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