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Palau prepares for avian influenza

Palau prepares for avian influenza

Thursday, April 6, 2006, Secretariat of the Pacific Community, Suva Regional Office - Palau’s Avian Flu Response Team learnt how to take blood samples from chickens to test for avian influenza in a recent training session. LRD staff members, Dr Steve Angus, Veterinary Epidemiologist, and Konrad Englberger, Coordinator, Plant Protection Micronesia, conducted the training, which was aimed at strengthening the capacity of the 17-member Response Team to deal with an outbreak. “Palau is so far free of avian influenza and this training is a contingency measure in case of an outbreak,” said Dr Angus.

The disease has been found in bird flocks in Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, Burma, China, Egypt and other European and Southeast Asian countries but not in the Pacific.

“There are no laboratories in the Pacific properly equipped to test for avian influenza, so all specimens are being sent to a laboratory in Australia. In fact, only six countries are recognised as having laboratories that can test for avian influenza – Great Britain, Australia, Japan, Germany, USA and Italy,” said Konrad Englberger.

The Avian Flu Response Team is currently seeking assistance to identify possible pathways through which avian influenza could enter Palau. Migratory birds are seen as a particular threat. The public have been alerted to report sightings of sick birds and the Task Force is running town meetings to raise public awareness of avian influenza.

ENDS

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