With the deadly H5N1 avian influenza virus now confirmed in 45 countries across Africa, Asia and Europe, the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations has said that efforts to combat the virus are meeting with some success.

To date, bird flu has killed 108 people in Asia. More than 200m birds have died either as a result of the disease or through culling designed to slow its spread. However, these efforts may be paying off, according to Joseph Domenech, chief vetinary officer of the FAO. Culls in Thailand, Viet Nam and China appear to have reduced the transmition of the disease to humans, Domenech observed.

Vaccination campaigns are also helping to contain the spread of the disease while compensation plans now in place have alleviated economic hardship and encouraged the timely reporting of new outbreaks.

The FAO has said that national governments should concentrate on containment efforts on farms.

Human activity, when birds are transported or brought to market, is the primary way that bird flu is spread. It is also necessary to keep domestic and wild birds separate.

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“The need to keep domestic birds away from wild birds has been widely recognized and efforts to do so have been implemented in many countries,” said Domenech.