H7 strain of the bird flu outbreak in North Korea contained

The recent outbreak of avian influenza in North Korea (DPRK) has been successfully contained, FAO said today, urging the country to continue surveillance on the affected farms and elsewhere to ensure that no residual infection remains.

An H7 strain of the bird flu virus had been detected recently on three poultry farms near the capital Pyongyang. Although this virus caused severe disease in chickens it is not directly related to the H5N1 avian influenza virus circulating in other parts of Asia.

"The virus appears to have been eliminated from the three infected farms by combining culling of around 218 000 infected chickens, vaccination of unaffected birds in unaffected poultry houses and strict biosecurity measures," said FAO consultant Les Sims, who traveled to Pyongyang to advise the North Korean veterinary authorities on bird flu control.

North Korea has acted promptly and appropriately and has provided essential information in a timely manner, Sims said, and the official declaration to the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) was done in due time. FAO sent three experts to the country to assist national authorities in diagnosis and disease management. This was done through the East Asian Regional Network on Avian Influenza set up by FAO.

FAO urged North Korea to continue bird flu surveillance throughout the country.

"Reagents and laboratory tools provided by FAO will assist in continuing the battle against the virus, but additional strengthening of veterinary diagnostic and surveillance capacity is seen as a priority to ensure that this work is completed," said Joseph Domenech, FAO's Chief Veterinary Officer.


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