Bird flu: FAO sends experts to North Korea


FAO has sent a veterinary expert to Pyongyang/North Korea to obtain further information on the extent of the current avian influenza outbreak in the country and to offer assistance to control the bird flu virus.

Two additional FAO avian influenza experts from China and Australia will arrive in Pyongjang within the next days.

The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea has informed FAO about bird flu outbreaks on two or three farms. In response, FAO has sent diagnostic kits for avian influenza to support national control efforts.

Poultry production is one of the few growing sectors in the country. The number of poultry is estimated at some 25.5 million in 2004, about two times higher than in 1997.

In the wake of serious food shortages, the supply of animal protein has been very limited in North Korea. The recovering poultry sector could contribute to improve the nutrition of the country’s population of around 22.5 million people by adding a valuable source of animal protein to their diets.

North Korea is one of the poorest countries in the world, with around 8 million chronically undernourished in 2000-2002.

The spread of the disease into North Korea underlines the need for close regional cooperation, FAO said. North Korea is already benefiting from a regional FAO project on avian influenza, shared with China, Mongolia and the Republic of Korea. The project assists in improving and upgrading veterinary laboratories as well as creating a network for the sharing of epidemiological information, and provision of equipment to control and prevent avian flu.

A national workshop on bird flu will be held soon in North Korea to improve awareness of the disease, and provide information on control methods, laboratory diagnosis and good farming practices. The workshop will be jointly organised by the government and FAO.

It is essential to fight the bird flu virus in poultry, free-range chickens and ducks, in order to reduce the risk of a human flu pandemic, the UN agency said.


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