IUF logo; clicking here returns you to the home page.
Uniting Food, Farm and Hotel Workers World-Wide

FAO Confirms Global Spread of Avian Flu Virus/Farm, Poultry Workers Still Waiting for Adequate Protection

Posted to the IUF website 24-Aug-2006

Share this article.

The United Nations' Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) reports that the deadly H5N1 avian flu virus continues to spread. In its latest report, the FAO confirms outbreaks of H5N1 in 55 countries - up from 45 earlier this year - including recent outbreaks in commercial poultry forms in Laos and Nigeria. There have been 64 confirmed deaths this year to date, including cases of human-to-human transmission, as compared to 41 in 2005. New strains of the rapidly mutating virus have been identified in Southeast Asia, while the disease has become endemic in parts of Thailand - a major poultry producer.

The FAO has declared the southern Balkans and the Caucasus as "high-risk" regions for the rapid spread of H5N1.

The FAO describes control efforts in the poultry sector as "The best insurance that it will not mutate into a virus that is easily transmissible among humans", adding that "We need to find the weak links in the global effort to contain H5N1 in the global effort to contain H5N1 and strengthen them." For the IUF, the missing link in current programs is precisely the absence of effective programs placing poultry workers at the center of prevention, given their key location as potential vectors for the rapid spread of the virus and its possible mutation into a version capable of human-to-human transmission.

Click here for a series of IUF briefing papers on agricultural and poultry workers and the threat of H5N1.