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Avian Influenza in South East Asia

Avian influenza, also known as bird flu, is a highly contagious viral disease affecting mainly chickens, turkeys, ducks and other birds.

While avian influenza caused by highly pathogenic virus strains have sometimes been shown to infect man, this disease should not be confused with human influenza, a common human disease. However, avian influenza under certain circumstances could pose a serious threat to humans.

Outbreaks of avian influenza have been recently reported in South Korea, Vietnam and Japan and are causing increasing concern in South East Asia. The OIE is monitoring the epidemiological situation very closely with the support of the Member Countries involved.

The OIE has been updating the international standards based on the most recent scientific findings involving world-renown scientists on avian influenza. Issues that have been addressed include the safety of poultry products for human consumption and for international trade, as well as updated methods for the control of the disease. OIE Member Countries will examine the developments and discuss them during the forthcoming General Session of the OIE in May 2004.

The OIE is working in close collaboration with the World Health Organisation and in this respect, a joint WHO/OIE/FAO Delegation of scientists and risk managers will soon be conducting consultations and investigations in countries in Asia, starting with Vietnam.

The OIE, through its experts and its world network of Reference Laboratories and Collaborating Centres remain at the disposal of all Member Countries requesting assistance in the defintion of policies on diagnosis, control and eradication of the disease in animals.