Monday, January 22, 2007
Chan: Bird flu deaths set new record in 2006
The new director-general of the World Health Organization is warning countries not to become complacent about avian flu, noting that deaths from the disease reached a new one-year high in 2006.
Speaking on the opening day of the WHO Executive Board meeting in Geneva on Monday, Margaret Chan, MD, MPH, reported that 267 cases of H5N1 avian flu have been diagnosed in humans since 2003, 161 of which were fatal. The 2006 death toll was greater than in all previous years combined — leading to a 70 percent case fatality rate for that year.
While the world has become accustomed to hearing about avian flu, the virus "has lost none of its virulence," Chan said. As almost no country that has had avian flu outbreaks in its poultry flocks has successfully eliminated the virus, the world is "years away" from controlling avian flu in the agricultural sector, Chan predicted.
"Countries have made heroic efforts, yet the virus stays put or comes back, again and again," she said. "As long as the virus continues to circulate in birds, the threat of a pandemic will persist."
Photo Credit: World Health Organization
Posted by Unknown at 2:47 PM