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H5N1 Outbreak In India Highlights Persistence of Global Threat

Posted to the IUF website 27-Jul-2007

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A mass slaughter of birds and poultry is underway in India's northeastern state of Manipur following an outbreak of the deadly h5n1 avian flu virus in a poultry farm near the state capital of Imphal. House-to-house surveillance within a 10-kilometer area around the infected farm will involve some half a million people,

One year ago, India had declared itself free of avian flu following two mass earlier outbreaks.

Neighboring Bangladesh, Burma and China, where new H5N1 strains have recently been identified, are being investigated as the possible source of the latest appearance of the virus in India.

Speaking on June 29, the FAO's chief veterinary officer warned that “Recent H5N1 outbreaks in Bangladesh, Ghana, Togo, the Czech Republic and Germany are a clear reminder that the virus still succeeds in spreading to new or previously already infected countries. A potential human influenza pandemic can not be ruled out as long as the virus continues to exist in poultry.”

The IUF has now secured participation in ILO programs on avian flu to work with affiliates and potential affiliates in South Asia and West Africa so that workplace health and safety and trade union rights issues are adequately addressed in the commercial poultry sector and that unions are fully involved in ILO/interagency programs on H5N1.

Comprehensive news and analysis on workers, trade unions and the H5N1 virus is available on the IUF's website Avian Influenza (H5N1) and Agricultural and Food Workers: Rights, Risks, Public Policy Issues.