SATURDAY, OCTOBER 1, 2016

FAO launches emergency H7N9 containment project

The U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization announced two emergency regional projects on Wednesday meant to contain avian influenza.

The FAO's Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific announced the projects at a three-day workshop attended by veterinary experts from countries in the sub-regions of South and Southeast Asia and representatives from international development partners and organizations. The projects, which will be coordinated with development partners like the World Organization for Animal Health, the U.S. Agency for International Development and the World Health Organization, will promote surveillance, preparedness and response to H7N9 avian influenza in poultry and other animal populations in at-risk Asian countries. The FAO projects are meant to help countries in the region to more effectively detect, control and respond to the virus.

"(The) virus in China is still present and there is still a great deal not yet understood about this H7N9 virus," Hiroyuki Konuma, the assistant director-general for the FAO, said. "Other influenza viruses that circulate in poultry often decrease dramatically during the summer months, only to reappear later in the year during cold season. Also, many low pathogenic influenza viruses in poultry have transformed into highly pathogenic viruses."

The FAO said the two initiatives will increase epidemiological knowledge, surveillance and diagnostic capacity and risk management. The projects will also improve coordination and collaboration between countries in the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.

"(The) sharing of information and the coordination that takes place at this meeting, and through the period of these projects, will lead to further improvements in infectious disease detection and response so that, as a global community, we will be better prepared for immediate action and early containment the next time a new disease emerges," Konuma said.

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