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The Threat of Pandemic Influenza: Are We Ready? - Workshop Summary
new influenza strains are likeliest to emerge: preschool and school-age children in rural areas where swine and poultry are raised. The data are shared and compared with surveillance of animal respiratory diseases by the University of Wisconsin’s veterinary diagnostic laboratory.
TOWARD PREPAREDNESS: OPPORTUNITIES AND OBSTACLES
Addressing Avian Influenza
Considerations of the pandemic threat posed by H5N1 avian influenza in Asia were augmented and enriched by further discussion of the global phenomenon of avian influenza, its impact on the poultry industry, and possible strategies for preventing and controlling its spread among birds and mammals, including humans. Participants noted the importance of surveillance to the effective control of influenza, as well as the limitations of predominant models of surveillance that focus on a single species or industry. In recognition of the need for a broader understanding of influenza behavior, the Office International des Épizooties (OIE), an international and intergovernmental organization that promotes worldwide solidarity in animal disease control, is developing influenza surveillance guidelines that encompass birds, domestic mammals, wildlife, and humans (see Sibartie in Chapter 4; Sibartie, 2004). Weeks after the workshop, the OIE, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), and WHO announced plans to launch a jointly sponsored regional veterinary influenza network intended to strengthen surveillance and speed the diagnosis and reporting of emergent strains (ProMED-mail, 2004q).
Obstacles to Early Reporting
In the absence of a comprehensive surveillance network in place, the rapid reporting of early cases is essential to controlling an emergent infectious disease. All OIE member countries are therefore required to report certain diseases—including avian influenza—within 24 hours of their detection in animals. After an outbreak of H7N7 avian influenza in ducks in 2003, The Netherlands established its own early warning system for the disease. Unfortunately, the system’s utility is limited by the fact that avian influenza has been relatively rare in The Netherlands, and is thus unlikely to be recognized by veterinarians (Koch, 2004).
Given existing obstacles to surveillance and early reporting, it is not surprising that in many instances, infection control for avian influenza has entailed mass culling of poultry. However, according to Dewan Sebartie of the OIE, that organization “recognizes that culling is no longer a viable option for certain countries for social, economic, technical, ethical and