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January 09, 2007

World Bank: Virus continues to spread

The World Bank is worried: Avian Flu 2007: Virus Continues to Spread. Excerpt:

Avian flu may not be front-page news right now, but the disease is spreading and remains a threat to poultry and human health, say World Bank avian flu experts.

The virus has continued to spread since countries pledged some $1.9 billion last January to prevent and combat bird flu. Carried by wild birds and through poultry trade, it now has reached at least 55 nations around the world.

According to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), over 220 million domestic birds—most owned by poor farmers in developing countries—have died or been “culled” (slaughtered) in efforts to contain the virus. Economic losses in the Southeast Asia poultry sector alone are estimated at around US$10 billion, and culling has cost the African poultry industry another $60 million.

The number of countries with human cases has risen from two in 2003 (China and Vietnam) to 10 in 2006, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). By the end of 2006, the total number of human avian flu cases stood at 261, and the number of deaths at 157.

The flu skeptics like Fumento argue that this is just a greed-motivated scare campaign by medical researchers hot for research grants. But if you lose $10 billion here, $10 billion there, pretty soon you're talking real money—and real damage. The spending on research and prevention is the sketchiest form of insurance.

Posted by dymaxion at January 9, 2007 09:50 PM

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