USAID announces $5 Million award to track bird flu

The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) announced a $5 million award to support the development of a global network to track avian influenza, with the aim of monitoring the role of migratory birds.

The Global Avian Influenza Network for Surveillance, or GAINS, will enhance international efforts to collect and analyze laboratory samples from wild birds and identify genetic changes in the virus. The entire award package totals $6 million, including a $1 million contribution from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Spearheaded by the Wildlife Conservation Society, GAINS will work in countries situated along key migratory routes to improve the collection, coordination, and laboratory evaluation of samples from wild birds. The goal of this work is to enhance understanding of the role wild birds play in the movement of the avian flu virus around the world. In addition, GAINS will create, update, and make available to researchers data related to avian influenza surveillance and migratory bird activity.

"The United States is already supporting efforts to develop animal surveillance and build diagnostic and laboratory capacity in at least 25 countries," said Dr. Dennis Carroll, Director of USAID's Avian and Pandemic Influenza Response Unit. "The GAINS program is an extension of our important work. The information GAINS produces will feed into systems to warn people about the movement of avian influenza. This network will significantly bolster our ability to support the international community in response to the virus."

The announcement supports the successful outcome of the second meeting of the International Partnership for Avian and Pandemic Influenza, held in Vienna, Austria, June 6-7. The U.S. delegation, headed by Under Secretary of State for Democracy and Global Affairs Dr. Paula J. Dobriansky, also included representatives from USAID, and the U.S. Departments of Agriculture and Health and Human Services.

"Leaders must continue to encourage their colleagues at home and abroad to be forthcoming with information critical to global response efforts," Dobriansky said at the meeting. "Providing accurate information to international partners can significantly limit both the human and economic impacts of an outbreak."

To date, USAID has allocated $158.4 million to fight avian influenza, and collaborates with other U.S. government agencies, international partners, and local governments and organizations to provide support in 46 countries.

For the latest information on USAID's efforts to combat avian influenza, visit: http://www.usaid.gov/our_work/global_health/home/News/news_items/avian_influenza.html.

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