- 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
- 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.