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Last Updated: Wednesday, 11 January 2006, 22:04 GMT
UN calls for $1.5bn bird flu fund
Turkish villagers with duck
The UN wants everyone to know the dangers of exposure to bird flu
The UN has called for $1.5bn (850m) to help implement programmes to fight bird flu and prepare for a human pandemic.

The UN's bird flu co-ordinator said he hoped the funds would be pledged at an international donors summit to be held in Beijing on 17 and 18 January.

Vital lessons in fighting the virus are emerging from Turkey's outbreak, which has left at least two people dead from the H5N1 strain and 13 in hospital.

Rapid responses to outbreaks and public education are essential, the UN says.

The UN's Food and Agriculture Organisation earlier warned that bird flu could become endemic in Turkey and pose a serious risk to nearby and neighbouring countries - many of which are now taking preventative action.

Health officer Juan Lubroth said it may be spreading despite controls. More than 300,000 birds have been culled.

QUICK GUIDE

The UN's bird flu co-ordinator, Dr David Nabarro said the Turkish government had taken "intense and comprehensive action to try to stamp out bird flu at source" - but more had to be done.

"The two early-stage lessons of the Turkish situation... are: number one, pay attention to the fact that vet services have got to be on the ball and quick to respond, and comprehensive in their response with culling and the rest," he said.

"And number two, communicate very precisely to people, particularly children, about the dangers of diseased, dying or dead birds."

Pledges needed

More than 70 people worldwide have died from the lethal strain of bird flu.

CONFIRMED TURKISH H5N1 CASES
Van: 7, including 2 deaths. A third death treated as a "probable case"
Ankara: 3
Kastamonu: 2
Corum: 1
Samsun: 1
Sivas: 1

Dr Nabarro said that on the basis of the information he had received so far, there was no evidence that the virus has been transmitted from human to human.

The Beijing conference, to be hosted by the EU and the World Bank, will call for pledges of money from the international community.

Dr Nabarro says the $1.5bn would be used for bird vaccination programmes, getting enough vets trained, and to prepare for the possibility of a human pandemic in which bird flu is passed from human to human.

The FAO has warned neighbouring countries to be on high alert, advising them to apply surveillance and control measures and ensure the public is fully informed about the virus.

In other developments:

  • Senior WHO official Shigeru Omiin says the threat in Asia is far more serious than in any other part of the world, but insists it will still be possible to change the course of the epidemic

  • A two day conference is being held in Tokyo to discuss fighting bird flu

  • The European Commission says it will extend its bird flu monitoring programme, due to finish at the end of January, until the end of 2006. An extra $2m has also been allocated to share the costs of laboratory tests with EU member states

  • Russia orders security measures to be stepped up at its airports and borders and its scientists warn Russians not to go to Turkey on holiday

  • Germany's Agricultural Minister Horst Seehofer says he is likely to order all birds be kept indoors.

The WHO is examining how bird flu has moved so quickly across the country since two people died in the eastern province of Van last week and why there have been so many cases.

Victims appeared to have contracted the virus from close contact with infected poultry. But the WHO admits it may be too soon to confirm any changes in the virus and its spread.

The WHO thinks the world is now closer to another flu pandemic than at any time since 1968, when the last of the 20th Century's three pandemics occurred.


BBC NEWS: VIDEO AND AUDIO
A British nurse living in Turkey on the impact of bird flu



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