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 You are in: Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs > Bureau of Public Affairs > Bureau of Public Affairs: Press Relations Office > Press Releases (Other) > 2005 > September
Fact Sheet
Office of the Spokesman
Washington, DC
September 14, 2005

Avian Influenza

The U.S. Government remains concerned that the ongoing foreign outbreaks of highly pathogenic H5N1 avian influenza in infected poultry has the potential to turn into a human influenza pandemic that would have significant international political, economic and social consequences. Since mid-2003, outbreaks of the H5N1 strain of avian influenza have been confirmed and continue to be detected among birds in Cambodia, China, Indonesia, Kazakhstan, Russia, Thailand, Vietnam and possibly Laos.

According to the World Health Organization, between December 2003 and August 2005, a total of 112 laboratory-confirmed human cases of H5N1 avian influenza were reported in Vietnam (90), Thailand (17), Cambodia (4) and Indonesia (1), resulting in 57 deaths. Most of these human cases resulted from direct contact with infected poultry or poultry droppings. Only a few cases of possible limited human-to-human transmissions have been recorded. If the virus develops the capacity to spread easily from person-to-person, medical professionals warn that a global influenza pandemic could be set in motion. The virus has prompted the culling of millions of domestic poultry and wild fowl from affected countries in Southeast Asia to Russia and Kazakhstan.

The United States is collaborating closely with the World Health Organization, the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations and the World Organization for Animal Health and a number of foreign governments to address the situation through planning, greater monitoring and full transparency in reporting and investigating avian influenza occurrences. These international partners have led global efforts to encourage countries to heighten surveillance for outbreaks in poultry and die-offs in migratory birds, and rapid introduction of containment measures.

The Department of State, the Department of Health and Human Services, the Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Agency for International Development are coordinating future international response measures on behalf of the White House with departments and agencies across the federal government. Over the past year, the Department of Health and Human Services has provided more than $5.5 million in technical assistance and grants to affected countries in Southeast Asia and the World Health Organization for influenza pandemic preparedness. Through its Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, HHS is providing ongoing emergency support with both experts and laboratory reagents.

On May 11, 2005, the President signed an emergency appropriations bill which contained $25 million to prevent and control the spread of avian influenza. The Department of Health and Human Services, the U.S. Agency for International Development and the Department of Agriculture are implementing plans to deploy the supplemental funding in Southeast Asia.

The U.S. Agency for International Development is working with international and private sector partners including the World Health Organization and the Food and Agricultural Organization to ensure a comprehensive and well-coordinated response to this epidemic covering both human and animal infection, and has pre-positioned emergency supplies and other protective equipment in several Southeast Asian nations to protect both health care and agricultural workers from exposure to the virus.

The Department of Agriculture, with the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum, conducted a Health Task Force Symposium in late July on avian influenza response and preparedness for a human health emergency. Department of Agriculture personnel have participated with representatives of the Department of Health and Human Services and the U.S. Agency for International Development in assessments of the avian influenza situation and emergency preparedness in Cambodia, Laos, Thailand and Vietnam, and will soon carry out similar assessments in Indonesia and China.

The United States continues to support nations in the preparedness, prevention and containment of the current outbreaks of avian influenza, and is working collaboratively with international partners to heighten both global and U.S. readiness should an influenza pandemic occur.

For additional information, please contact:

U.S. Department of State Press Office: 202-647-2492. http://www.state.gov/g/oes/avianflu/
Also see:

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Press Office: 202-690-6343.

U.S. Agency for International Development Press Office: 202-712-4320. www.usaid.gov

U.S. Department of Agriculture, Office of Communications: 202-720-4623.

Released on September 14, 2005

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