U.N. continue to fight against bird flu

The United Nations will launch an appeal for at least US$50 million (42 million) to improve animal surveillance in the fight against bird flu, an official said Monday.

The appeal was needed following the spread of the deadly H5N1 strain outside southeast Asia and would be launched later this week, said Joseph Domenech, chief veterinary officer at the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization.

The money was necessary to strengthen the agency's capacity to detect the virus and the ability to provide an effective emergency response, Domenech said.

The Rome-based FAO calculated the appeal to cover response over 18 months in the Middle East, Eastern Europe and the Caucasus, Central Asia, and several regions in Africa, he said.

Last week, the agency warned of the increased risk that bird flu could spread along the pathways of migratory birds to the Middle East and African countries that are poorly equipped to deal with an outbreak, following the confirmation of cases in Romania and Turkey. "Africa is the priority," Domenech said.

He said the upcoming appeal was separate from a previous US$175 million (146 million) appeal by the FAO for funds to help combat bird flu over three years.

The deadly H5N1 strain of the bird flu virus has decimated bird stocks in Asia and killed at least 60 people in the region, most of them poultry farmers directly infected by birds, reorts the AP. I.L.

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Author`s name: Editorial Team