Mar 18, 2008 (CIDRAP News) – The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) today warned that H5N1 avian influenza levels in Indonesia’s poultry are so high that conditions may be ripe for the type of viral mutation that could spark an influenza pandemic.”I am deeply concerned that the high level of virus circulation in birds in the country could create conditions for the virus to mutate and to finally cause a human influenza pandemic,” said Joseph Domenech, the FAO’s chief veterinary officer, in a press release today.Also, new H5N1 virus strains have recently emerged in Indonesia that might limit the effectiveness of the poultry vaccines used there, Domenech said.He said that Indonesia has the world’s highest H5N1 mortality rate and that human cases will keep rising unless the country and its international partners do more to stamp out the virus in birds.The FAO said the disease has hit 31 of 33 provinces in Indonesia and is endemic in Java, Sumatra, Bali, and southern Sulawesi islands. About 20% of the country’s 1.4 billion chickens are spread among 30 million backyard flocks, putting them in close contact with people.Despite “major control efforts,” Indonesia has failed to contain the spread of the virus in poultry, Domenech said. “Indonesia is facing an uphill battle against a virus that is difficult to contain,” he said. “Major human and financial resources, stronger political commitment and strengthened coordination between central, province, and district authorities are required to improve surveillance and control measures.”Problems controlling the virus in Indonesia stem from a highly decentralized administration, poorly resourced national veterinary services, little collaboration with commercial poultry producers, and insufficient national and international financial and human resources, the FAO said. International donors have contributed $25 million to the effort so far, the agency reported.The emergence of the new H5N1 virus strains and the possible lapse in vaccine protection are under investigation by Indonesia’s agriculture ministry, with technical assistance from the FAO and World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) and financial assistance from the United States and Australia, the FAO said.”Also required are more investigations and the development of better poultry vaccines,” Domenech said.The FAO said it has helped train 1,350 “participatory disease surveillance and response teams” that are working to control avian flu in 193 of Indonesia’s 448 districts. By June, more than 2,000 response teams will be working in over 300 districts, the agency said.In other developments, agriculture officials in China recently informed Hong Kong’s Food and Health Bureau that the H5N1 virus struck birds in a poultry market in the city of Guangzhou, in southern China’s Guangdong province, according to an Associated Press (AP) report yesterday. Hong Kong officials said the outbreak is China’s fifth of the year, the report said.The outbreak at the Guangzhou market killed 114 birds, and 518 others were culled to control the disease, the AP reported.Elsewhere, veterinary officials in Vietnam announced on Mar 16 an outbreak in ducks in yet another province, Quang Nam in the central part of the country, according to a Mar 17 report by Thanh Nien News, a Vietnamese news service. The H5N1 virus struck 300 birds, and the remaining ducks, along with poultry on nearby farms, were culled.See also:Mar 18 FAO statement
CJ Stander will lead Munster for the first time at European level in Saturday’s game, while Mike Sherry and BJ Botha return to join Dave Kilcoyne in the front row. Sherry makes a return to European action for the first time in over two years.Head coach Anthony Foley believes Stander is the right man to lead Munster into today’s game.Action there kicks-off at 5.15pmAlso at 5.15, Saracens face Toulouse and Northampton Saint host Scarlets at 7.45.Connacht got their European Challenge Cup campaign off to a winning start in Krasnoyarsk this morning, as they beat Enisei-STM by 31 points to 14.Pat Lams side ran in four second-half tries as they braved the minus 27 degree conditions,John Muldoon, Darragh Leader and Rory Parata wrapping up the bonus point victory. No rescheduled date has yet been set.Racing 92’s fixture against Glasgow Warriors has also been called off.Later this evening, Munster host Italian side Treviso at Thomond Park.
NASSAU, Bahamas, CMC – The Bahamas has deported more than 100 Haitian nationals less than two weeks after Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis warned illegal migrants they should either leave the country voluntarily or be “forced to leave” following the passage of Hurricane Dorian last month.A statement issued by the Department of immigration said that a Bahamasair flight departed the Lynden Pindling International Airport for Port-au-Prince, Haiti with a total of 112 Haitian nationals escorted by a team of law enforcement officers.The statement said that 21 females were among those deported and that it “will continue its commitment to carrying out the mandates of our agency to combat illegal migration by establishing effective border control management in compliance with the Statute Laws of our country”.The brief statement did not indicate whether those deported had survived the passage of the storm, but at the start of this month, Minnis in a statement in Parliament warned illegal migrants who survived the passage of Hurricane Dorian on September 1 killing at least 60 people and leaving millions of dollars in damage, that the government would be implementing its deportation of illegal migrants in keeping with the law.“We are a country of laws and our laws in respect to illegal immigrants… will be carried out; however, they will be carried out in a humane manner. Therefore, I serve notice to all those who are illegal that they can leave voluntarily or they will be forced to leave,” Minnis told legislators.The human rights group, Rights Bahamas, has criticized the decision of the government saying it has alerted its international human rights groups to the “government’s savage, cold-hearted and illegal plan.Attorney General Carl Bethel said migrants who have lost their jobs as a result of the hurricane “need to go home” even if their work permits have not yet expired,.In an earlier statement, the Department of Immigration warned prospective employers of storm victims that need work permits must prove their applicant has satisfactory living conditions because if they don’t, they will be denied.“The public is advised that non-nationals seeking employment in The Bahamas must be approved by the Immigration Department and that applications for the issuance of the first work permit will not be accepted or considered unless the individual is physically present and resident in his or her country of origin at the same time that the first application is made,” the Department of Immigration said.The issue of illegal immigration from Haiti to the Bahamas has been a long-standing problem with Haitians being stigmatized in the country.Apart from the island of New Providence, Abaco is believed to have had the largest population of Haitians, many residing in informal shantytowns. The largest two, The Mudd and Pigeon Pea, in Abaco’s capital, Marsh Harbour, suffered severe damage when Hurricane Dorian swept through the archipelago.