Bird Flu is back, mutant strain spreading: UN

Bird Flu resurgence feared
Bird Flu or the Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza H5N1 cases are on the rise again and the possibility of a major resurgence is being feared. These prompted the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) to advise health authorities around the world to step up surveillance and readiness.

"Wild birds may introduce the virus, but people's actions in poultry production and marketing spread it," said Juan Lubroth, the chief veterinary officer of FAO.

Lubroth added, "The general departure from the progressive decline in 2004-08 could mean that there will be a flare-up of H5N1 this autumn and winter, with people unexpectedly finding the virus in their backyard."

Since 2003, there have been 565 individuals reported to have contracted Bird Flu. According to the UN, at least 331 of them died.

Because of the Bird Flu, more than 400 million domestic poultry have been destroyed since 2003, damaging $20 billion to world's economies before bird flu was supposedly eradicated from the majority of the 63 nations infected in 2006 (bird flu peak).

However, H5N1 has continued to be endemic in six countries - Vietnam, Indonesia, India, Egypt, China and Bangladesh.

The number of domestic and wild birds infected fell from 4000 in 2006 to 302 in 2008. However, over the last twenty-four months, numbers have been steadily rising. 800 cases were reported in 2010-2011.

A mutant strain of the deadly Bird Flu is reportedly spreading in Asia and other parts of the world. The FAO has described its risks to the human health as "unpredictable."

At least eight people have reportedly died of Bird Flu in Cambodia this year. 
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