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WHO Director Warns Against Bird Flu in Africa

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  • WHO Director Warns Against Bird Flu in Africa

    Act Against Bird Flu, Warns WHO

    The Times of Zambia (Ndola)
    February 11, 2006
    Posted to the web February 13, 2006

    THE World Health Organisation (WHO) has warned African countries to take measures to reduce the risks of Avian Influenza, otherwise known as bird flu.

    WHO Director General Lee Jong Wook said the confirmation of the presence of Avian Influenza in poultry in Africa was a cause of great concern and demanded immediate action.

    "This latest outbreak confirms that no country is immune to H5N1. Every country is at risk.

    "Every country must prepare. There is a risk that outbreaks of H5N1 infections in birds could spread within Nigeria and into neighbouring countries," he said.

    He said it was important for countries to warn their people about the dangers of close contact with sick or dead birds infected with the disease especially that the disease had been reported in Nigeria.

    "Slaughtering, defeathering or butchering infected, sick or dead birds can put people at risk. Ideally, people culling and disposing of birds should have protective equipment," he said.

    Human and animal health services must be on high alert sharing information and quickly reporting any signs of disease in birds or humans that could be due to H5N1 Avian Influenza.

    He said out that African health systems were already struggling with children and adults suffering from HIV/Aids, tuberculosis, malaria, respiratory infections and other infectious diseases hence the need to ensure that there is no spread of the Avian Influenza.

    "We simply do not know what the impact of the exposure to Avian Influenza will be on the many people who may be already immune compromised and in a fragile state of health," he said.

    Health workers must be fully alert and samples must be taken and sent to laboratories.

    When human cases of H5N1 are identified, coordinated human and animal health investigations would be essential