Avian influenza, last season transmitted by migrating wild birds, is now being spread through the poultry trade, the top United Nations expert on the issue said today, warning that despite some successful efforts of States to contain the virus, no one can afford to be complacent as it could potentially mutate into a human pandemic.
?I?m generally and personally very happy with the way in which countries have organized themselves to try to respond to these challenges,? David Nabarro, Senior United Nations System Coordinator for Avian and Human Influenza, told reporters at a briefing at UN Headquarters.
However, he cautioned, ?We have to not only maintain focus on the challenges of avian influenza, but we must get more pandemic ready.?
Since late last year, outbreaks of avian flu have been confirmed in ten countries: Indonesia, Vietnam, South Korea, Thailand, China, Japan, Egypt, Nigeria, Hungary and the United Kingdom. There has been a report, as yet unconfirmed, of an occurrence in Turkey, and there have been no confirmed outbreaks in North and South America. Dr. Nabarro said that he forecasts that more outbreaks are to come, yet currently, it is not possible to predict their geographic distribution.
This season?s wave of avian flu, unlike that of last season, is largely believed to be passed on through the poultry trade as opposed to migration of contaminated wild birds. Other methods of transmission of H5N1 include water and soil contamination as well as handling of infected poultry.