OIE: China, Indonesia and Africa "under-reporting" human and animal Bird Flu cases

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

The World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) and the Food and Agriculture Organization, both part of the United Nations, have stated that some countries, particularly China, Indonesia and some countries in Africa are "under-reporting" the number of human cases of the deadly H5N1 Avian Flu (Bird Flu) virus, but also said that the countries are not hiding them "deliberately."

"We know that some countries might be under-reporting ... most do not do it deliberately. We are concerned about China and Indonesia and Africa because the virus seems to be so widespread that we could not get all the information. It is difficult to know about each individual outbreak in a back yard," said Doctor Christianne Bruschke, in Rome, Italy on Wednesday and who is head of the OIE's Bird Flu taskforce.

Bruschke also said that farmers lack the education they need on the virus and need to be reimbursed financially for any education they need citing that the "richer nations" should help fund the education they need and that lack of veterinary clinics, distance to them, and time are also to blame for the under-reporting.

In Africa, "farmers will probably not report sick animals," said Bruschke.

"Their veterinary services are very weak and many countries do not have laboratory facilities - we have all the ingredients there that could lead to under-reporting," she added.

Bruschke also said that Indonesia may not be reporting all human or animal cases also stating that the virus is "permanently infecting poultry" in the country which makes it increasingly difficult for anyone to report outbreaks.

"I think it could be the case because in certain regions the virus is getting more or less endemic, so in regions like Java, they might not report every single outbreak anymore," said Bruschke.

According to Bruschke, China is cooperating but she also said that "[China] is a very big country" and that there are cases of infections in wild birds.

"We sometimes see the outbreaks in wild animals - they will not always detect them. There is also not a very good compensation scheme in place so we feel there might be under-reporting," said Bruschke.