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Homeland Security

Analysis: Bird Flu Season Again

Council on Foreign Relations

February 9, 2007
Prepared by: Carin Zissis

In late January came another reminder of the sturdiness of avian flu. Britain was hit by its first major outbreak in domestic poultry when 2,600 turkeys died (Times of London) at a farm run by one the country’s biggest producers. Roughly 160,000 birds were gassed to contain the disease while authorities sought answers about the source. Although the spread of bird flu can often be traced to migrating wild waterfowl, the British outbreak is likely linked to a poultry plant in Hungary owned by the same company, according to the UK’s Department for Food, Environment, and Rural Affairs.

This flu season in the northern hemisphere, the disease also has appeared (NewScientist.com) in Japan, South Korea, Vietnam, Indonesia, Russia, Egypt, China, Pakistan, and Nigeria. Avian flu continues its global spread at immense economic costs, with 200 million birds culled as a result of outbreaks since 2003, according to an August report (PDF) by the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization. Joshua Kurlantzick, a China expert at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, warns that, “just because [U.S] news magazines have forgotten about avian flu, and the disease has not yet swept through America, does not mean it has gone away.”

So far the highly lethal bird flu, H5N1, is not easily transmittable from birds to humans. But Margaret Chan, the new director of the World Health Organization (WHO), warned in January, “As long as the virus continues to circulate in birds, the threat of a pandemic will persist.”

Read the rest of this article on the cfr.org website.

Copyright 2007 by the Council on Foreign Relations. This material is republished on GlobalSecurity.org with specific permission from the cfr.org. Reprint and republication queries for this article should be directed to cfr.org.

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