Bird flu outbreaks set to rise, according to UN
The world should expect more bird flu outbreaks in the coming winter months,
the UN official co-ordinating the global fight against the virus warned today.
Dr David Nabarro spoke out after Britain recorded its first case of the H5N1
strain on a commercial farm.
However, he stressed that he did not expect the virus to spread in Britain to
neighbouring farms because of the quick containment measures put in place by the
"This should mean that there won't therefore be spread ... into other parts
in the vicinity," he said in an interview in Indonesia, the country worst hit
by the bird flu.
"That is what I hope, but of course we will see over the next few days."
He said countries around the world where the virus was not endemic would
likely see more cases in poultry in the first half of this year, mostly spread
by migrating birds.
"I am expecting to see outbreaks of highly pathogenic avian influenza in a
number of locations over the next three or four months, and I am basing it on
what happened last year," he said, stressing that the risk to human health
remained very small.
Nabarro said a recent spike in human deaths in Indonesia meant the country
must do more to fight the virus despite improving its efforts in recent months,
including the cull of backyard chickens in the capital last week.
``Just at the moment there are rather a lot of (cases) ... so that is why
everybody needs to be a little anxious about what is happening and everybody
needs to be forceful on moving rapidly and strongly forward with intensifying
H5N1 has prompted the slaughter of millions of birds across Asia since late
2003, and caused the deaths of more than 160 people worldwide, around a third of
them in Indonesia, according to the World Health Organisation.
Most people killed so far have been infected by domestic fowl and the virus
remains very hard for humans to catch. But experts fear it could mutate into a
form that easily spreads among humans, sparking a pandemic with the potential to