Press Releases

    SAG/216
    2 February 2004

    Bird Flu: Success of Eradication Depends on Mass Cullings

    Financial Incentives Needed to Encourage Emergency Measures in Poor Countries

    (Reissued as received.)

    BANGKOK, 30 January (FAO) -- The success of eradication of bird flu in affected countries in Asia heavily depends on mass cullings, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) said today.

    “Mass cullings in affected areas are currently considered as the most effective way of stamping out the highly contagious virus that has so far hit 10 countries in Asia”, said Hans Wagner, senior animal production and health officer.

    “We are, however, concerned that mass cullings are not taking place at a speed we consider absolutely necessary to contain the virus H5N1 in the region. Compensation is often a limiting factor. As long as small farmers and commercial producers, especially in poorer countries, do not receive an adequate financial incentive for killing their chickens, they will probably not apply suggested emergency measures”, he said.

    “Many of these small poultry producers are dependent on selling their chickens and eggs on local markets to earn a daily income. The fear of losing their animals without some kind of compensation is a real threat to them, which governments and the international community urgently need to address”, Wagner said.

    Poorer countries in particular would need international financial assistance and advice to address the problem, the FAO said.

    The campaign against avian flu can only be successful if we convince poultry farmers in all affected countries to apply drastic emergency measures such as cullings, the FAO expert said.

    “There is a real threat that the virus may linger on in poorer countries which are without adequate resources to apply control measures”, he added.

    To date, more than 25 million birds have been culled in the campaign against avian flu.

    For more information, contact: Erwin Northoff, Information Officer, FAO, e-mail:  erwin.northoff@fao.org, tel.: (+39) 06 570 53105, mobile in Bangkok:  (+39) 348 2523 616; Diderik de Vleeschauwer, FAO Information Officer, RAP, e-mail: diderik.devleeschauwer@fao.org, tel. in Bangkok:  (+66) 2 697 4126; FAO Newsroom: http://www.fao.org/english/newsroom/

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