U.N. Warns Bird Flu Not Under Control

The United Nations on Friday warned Asian countries to "remain vigilant" in their fight against the bird flu virus that has killed 19 people in the region because the epidemic was still not under control.

The U.N.'s Food and Agricultural Organization said Cambodia, China, Indonesia and Laos continued to report new outbreaks of the H5N1 virus.

China confirmed outbreaks of bird flu in Shanghai and in the northern city of Tianjin, near Beijing. It also confirmed six outbreaks in the southwestern province of Yunnan and in Guangdong in the south. China has now confirmed cases in 14 provinces.

So far, around 80 million chickens have been culled in efforts to battle the disease (excluding China) with most of that total being slaughtered in Vietnam and Thailand.

The FAO said that cooperation with countries affected by bird flu has significantly improved. "Countries realize that cooperation and transparency are absolutely essential in the fight against bird flu," FAO said.

While China, Indonesia, Thailand and Vietnam have set up information and response structures, the situation remains very difficult in some of the affected countries.

"Especially in poorer countries, the emergency response has been slow due to the lack of resources such as qualified veterinary staff, diagnostic tools and transport," the FAO said.

In addition, the administrative and political structures required to run an effective emergency campaign are often not yet in place.

Veterinarians from more than 20 countries will meet Feb. 26-28 in Bangkok to discuss the economic impact of the avian flu crisis, strategies to control the disease, including emergency measures, and how to restore poultry industries and improve regional cooperation.

Editors note: Richard Brock, The Corn and Soybean Digest's Marketing Editor, is president of Brock Associates, a farm market advisory firm, and publisher of The Brock Report.

To see more market perspectives, visit Brock's Web site at www.brockreport.com.