The Scientific Task Force on Avian Influenza and Wild Birds urges for systematic H5N1 monitoring

The task force, a collaborative partnership involving 15 international organizations including the Scientific and Technical Review Panel of the Ramsar Convention (STRP), held a review meeting in Rome, 23 March 2010. The team of experts stressed the role played by birds in the spread of H5N1 avian influenza virus.

FAO media centre reports that, over the past six months, alarming outbreaks of the virus in domestic poultry have been reported in Bangladesh, Cambodia, Romania, Israel, Myanmar, Nepal, Egypt, Indonesia, India, Viet Nam and in wild birds in China, Mongolia and the Russian Federation.

"Unfortunately, H5N1 may have slipped off the radar screen for some people, but it continues to be a major problem, especially in Egypt and parts of Asia, where it is having a huge impact on food security and the livelihoods of farmers and local communities," said Juan Lubroth, FAO's Chief Veterinary Officer.

"Waning attention to H5N1 HPAI is reducing surveillance and research opportunities, negatively affecting capacity building and coordination between environmental and agricultural authorities, and impacting efforts to further refine understanding of the epidemiology and the ecology of the virus," the Scientific Task Force on Avian Influenza and Wild Birds said in a statement following the review meeting.

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