In respond to the increasing threat of H5N1 virus, the FAO implemented a set of 5 projects under the Technical Cooperation Programmes (TCP) for East Europe and Caucasus, for the Middle East and for East, West and North Africa. These projects had the objective of improving epidemiological surveillance and strengthening capacities to prepare emergency plans against the dissemination of HPAI into the region, in relation to wild birds’ migrations and poultry trade. Training workshops and a first surveillance campaign of Avian Influenza in wild birds were implemented in the first half of 2006. More training workshops and a second surveillance campaign have been implemented since September 2006.
Migratory waterfowl are generally considered to be the natural reservoir of Avian Influenza Viruses (AIV). Large numbers of Eurasian breeding waterbirds over-winter in the sub-Saharan region of the African continent, where they congregate and mix with a wide variety of Afro-tropical waterbirds.
In the context of the spread of Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) H5N1 virus through Eurasia during 2005, a surveillance study of wild bird was launched in early 2006, within the framework of regional Technical Cooperation Programmes (TCP) of FAO in several countries of Eastern Europe, the Middle East and Africa.
We report about the first large-scale surveillance of avian influenza viruses in waterbirds conducted in Africa. This study shows evidence of the presence of low pathogenic avian influenza viruses in wild birds in several major wetlands of Africa, in both Eurasian and Afro-tropical species.
The workshops were carried out by CIRAD in partnership with the FAO, the Royal Veterinary College and Wetlands International. Epidemiology and wildlife trainings were conducted at the same time in order to reinforce exchanges between the different epidemiologic centres, wildlife departments and laboratories to enhance regional collaboration. We used a multidisciplinary approach including lectures, group discussions, practical applications using a computer-assisted learning tool (Ranema), software and practical sessions in the field. Between February and September 2006, six workshops were organised bringing together 449 participants and targeting a total of 90 countries. The training has benefited significantly from the presence of representatives from countries infected by H5N1, who were able to share their experienceS in term of surveillance, control and communication.
January 12th, 2010
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