ADEA Releases Study
On Bird Flu & Its
Implication On UAE

Abu Dhabi, Aug. 22, 2005 (WAM) -- A study released by the Abu Dhabi Environment Authority has warned against the possible danger of the Bird Flu virus finding its way into the UAE and the ability of the virus spreading to human beings.
"The ability of virus to infect and kill humans, domestic poultry and wild birds poses global health concerns and serious economic implications," the study said adding that the ability of the virus to jump hosts and chances of human to human transmission makes the currently circulating H5N1 strain as one of the most deadly viruses which can cause pandemic.
"If it becomes pandemic, it can kill several million people in a relatively short time, some what like the Spanish Flu of 1918 which killed about 40 million people," the study said.
The 31-pages study highlighted on Bird Flu and its implications for the UAE, the nature of the virus, its spread in birds and humans, how deadly is the virus countries infected from 2003 to 2005. The study also gave some statistics on Bird Flu-related fatalities, including human deaths and poultry loss, chances and possible sources of Bird Flu in the UAE, particularly sources related to migratory bird, wildlife trade and disease implications, falconry, poultry and waterfowl import.
The study also dealt in details about breeding seabirds colonies, commercial poultry and private bird collections. It also dealt with the way forward, including eradication, prevention and monitoring of the virus.
Some of the recommendations made by the study to get away from the virus include developing a contingency plan, eradication and control of infected birds, vaccination of poultry and captive collections, stocking of flu drugs, suspending poultry import from countries currently infected with Bird Flu, mandatory quarantine implementation, avian disease surveillance programme, wild bird monitoring and studies on movement and migration.
The study said recent outbreaks of bird flu, mostly in South-east Asia and more recently in Siberian region of Russia had caused death and destruction of several million poultry, several thousand wild birds and 60 persons. "The virus although currently in about 12 South-east Asian countries, Russia Kazakhstan and more recently in Mongolia has ability to reach most unlikely places through wild birds, domestic poultry and humans," the study said. "Given the rate of spread and scale of destruction it can cause, each country should be fully prepared to meet any such challenge. The virus poses a global health risk and is a global concern, however besides contributing to global efforts to stamp out the disease, actions need to be taken locally," it added.
It pointed out that as bird flu was one of the diseases that threaten humans, domestic poultry and wild birds alike, there was a need for concerted efforts from agencies which deal with human health, commercial poultry production and wildlife to develop human health and safety measures and effective programmes to conserve wild birds.
It said preparedness to fight the disease at local level should include a multitude of actions, from understanding the nature of virus and its ability to mutate and transform, to diseases surveillance and monitoring of water birds, to temporarily banning import of poultry and poultry products from the S-East Asia and Russia.
The study called for a contingency plan for the UAE to deal with the virus, procure stocks of vaccines, anti viral drugs and Vitamin C supplements are equally important towards preparedness and will go a long way in dealing with any such eventuality without panic and chaos.
The UAE is on high alert against Bird Flu. This is in view of the spread of the disease in some Asian countries and the possibility of its spread to Europe and the Middle East region.
As part of the tough measures to ensure the virus does not find its way into the UAE, the Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, Saeed Mohammed Al Raqabani, recently issued a ministerial decree banning the importation of live birds and its products from Mongolia as a precautionary measure against the transmission of the Bird Flu virus.
The ban has been issued in accordance with information received by the Ministry from the World Animal Health Organisation, which disclosed spread of avian bird flu virus in Mongolia.
According to the study, so far there had been no reported cases of bird flu in the UAE, but given the number of wild birds migrating to UAE and the amount of international trade in wildlife, both legal and illegal, there could be serious consequences in case disease enters UAE. Although most of the birds migrating to UAE come from Europe, there are species of birds which also come from Russia and Central Asia. Prominent among these are falcons, Houbara and possibly some waders.
The study said species breeding in the Caspian Sea area, anatids, waders and some Passeriformes were likely to move between their breeding quarters and wintering areas in the Gulf including the United Arab Emirates. Given the recent spread of disease in the Novosibirsk in the Siberian region of Russia Kazakhstan and Mongolia, the UAE is much more prone to bird flu.
It said Bird Flu, like SARS, EBOLA and Mad Cow Disease does not depend on humans hosts for its survival and hence it will continue to persists and occur from time to time. Given this it is imperative to have measures in place for dealing with any emergencies arising out of the spread of flu in the country and also take precautionary measures to prevent any occurrence of infection.



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