02/27/2015, 00.00
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WHO sounds alarm over spread of Bird flu after massive cull in Myanmar

Concerns over the rapid spread and genetic swapping of the virus, termed "unprecedented”. Taiwan, Myanmar and Vietnam, as well as Egypt, the United States and Hungary under observation. In the center of Myanmar in 1500 poultry and over 20 thousand quail specimens culled. Many poultry farms risk collapse.

Yangon (AsiaNews / Agencies) - The World Health Organization (WHO) has raised the alarm about the rapid spread of some strains of influenza, in particular those related to avian flu. The organization is concerned not only by the speed with which the virus is being propagated, but also the genetic exchange which it has termed "unprecedented."

The most worrying situation is in Asia, where in recent days several countries have reported critical situations and high levels of infection (HPAI) in wild birds and poultry. These include Taiwan, Myanmar and Vietnam. Egypt, the United States and Hungary are also on the list.

In an official statement, the WHO says the world must pay attention to the variety and spread of viruses related to avian influenza, from H5N1 to its variants that have been created in recent years. The disease affects both domestic and farm animals as well as wild species. This might lead to the emergence of new strains and threaten food supplies, even putting human health at risk.

Myanmar authorities have raised the alert levels, to prevent the rapid spread of the virus in the country. Thousands of birds have been culled in an attempt to contain the epidemic, particularly in Monywa, a town west of Mandalay, in the northwestern region of Sagaing.

Since the beginning of the month, when the first signs of bird flu appeared on a poultry farm in the area more than 1,400 chickens and about 10 thousand quails have died from the H5N1 virus. As a precautionary measure, the authorities ordered the culling of another 1500 samples of poultry and over 20 thousand quail. In the area there are more than 300 companies engaged in the production of poultry and 100 in quail, for a total of 140 thousand chickens and more than 500 thousand quails.

In 2006 and 2012 the area was hit by an outbreak of avian influenza, contained with difficulty by both the local and central government. Burmese government sources say that the disease is under control and there were no cases of transmission to humans.

The H5N1 virus has struck a human being for the first time in 1997, in Hong Kong. It then spread throughout Asia, Europe and Africa, deeply rooted among poultry in some countries, where millions of fowl were infected and several hundred deaths among humans.


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