Comments by Dr Wantanee Kalpravidh, Regional Coordinator for Avian Influenza Projects, FAO Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific (FAO-RAP)
FAO was informed about the infection last week. Rapid test initially showed negative results for H5 avian influenza, but another test conducted a few days later from egg inoculation showed positive results for H5.
The samples were later confirmed to be H5N1 by the Thai National Institute of Animal Health, Department of Livestock Development.
The Government of Laos has taken immediate action to control the spread of the virus by culling all the chickens in the farm, disinfecting the farm and imposed movement restriction within the five kilometres surveillance zone.
Further intense investigation needs to be carried out to determine the source of infection, because it is important to trace the spread of the virus from this outbreak and the source.
There is a need to put in place, an active AI surveillance system. With external financial assistance, FAO is working with the government and other partners like OIE and WHO in developing measures to strengthen the country’s capacity to respond to the avian influenza situation in animals, and the possible spread to humans.
The fight against AI requires comprehensive and sustained efforts at the local, national and international level over a period of several years, in order to overcome this animal disease and prevent possible human flu pandemic.
FAO also emphasises the importance of early detection and rapid and transparent international reporting to curb the spread of this highly contagious animal disease because it has great potential for cross border spread.
Dr Laurence Gleeson, Regional Manager, Emergency Centre for Transboundary Animal Diseases (ECTAD), Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific (RAP) will be in Lao next week to help assess the situation.
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