Avian influenza, also known as bird flu, is a highly contagious viral disease of chickens, turkeys, ducks and other birds.
The OIE is closely monitoring the outbreaks of avian influenza occurring in various parts of the world, including the Netherlands as well as the circulation of the virus in other animal species particularly in pigs. The efficient and transparent collaboration between Veterinary Services of the OIE Member Countries involved and the world-wide network of OIE Reference Laboratories ensures a proper follow-up of scientific information related to the disease.
Regarding the possible transmission of the virus to humans, the OIE has been informed of a human fatality associated with the H7N7 strain detected in the Netherlands. Latest information received from the Authorities of the Netherlands indicate that the virus has not undergone any genetic modification. There is as yet no documented evidence of any risk to consumers of poultry meat resulting from the currently circulating strains of the virus.
The OIE is highly concerned of any risk that a spread of avian influenza may present to the international community particularly from economic and public health points of view. For this reason, a revised international standard has been elaborated, taking into account the risk to humans. This will be submitted for adoption to the International Committee of the OIE that will take place in Paris from 18-23 May 2003.