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Early detection best to control bird flu -report
posted by admin on 13/07/06

LONDON, July 12 (Reuters)

Immediate culling of infected birds and detecting the virus early are the best ways to control an outbreak of avian flu on farms, researchers said on Wednesday.

The team of French and American scientists developed a mathematical model to assess the most effective methods to prevent the spread the lethal virus to poultry on other farms and people.

"From the results of the mathematical model of avian influenza spread, we can say that the best methods, ranked by importance, are a) immediate culling of infected flocks...b) early detection of the disease in a flock," said Dr Arnaud Le Menach of the University Pierre and Marie Curie in Paris.

He added that increasing the radius in which surrounding farms are culled would also help in controlling the disease along with improved surveillance.

The rapid spread of the H5N1 bird flu virus from Asia to the Middle East, Europe and Africa has sparked fears that it could mutate into a highly infectious strain that could cause a human influenza pandemic.

Outbreaks in birds have been confirmed in 48 countries and territories, according to data from the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE).

Since late 2003 there have been 229 human infections of H5N1 and 131 deaths.

The scientists, who used data from a Dutch avian influenza outbreak in 2003 in their model, reported their findings in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences journal.

Vaccination was not taken into account in the model.

"We simulated 1000 epidemics over a period of 100 days beginning with a unique index case in the Renswoude municipality where the epidemic began," Le Menach explained in the journal.

During the Dutch outbreak three years ago 185 commercial farms were reported infected.

The researchers said that for culling to be effective it must take place quickly after an outbreak is detected. Delays in culling increase the risk of further infection in birds and in humans.

They also called for control measures to be used for both low and high pathogenic avian influenza viruses because a virus can acquire additional virulence.

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