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Notes to broadcasters on avian flu:

In January of this year, the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) issued a press release to emphasise that the H5N1 strain of bird flu remains a global threat. The FAO advised that between December 2007 and January 2008, avian flu outbreaks were identified in 15 countries around the world: Bangladesh, Benin, China, Egypt, Germany, India, Indonesia, Iran, Israel, Myanmar, Poland, Russia, Ukraine, Turkey, and Viet Nam. Dr. Joseph Domenech, the FAO’s chief veterinarian, said that “globally, much progress has been achieved in keeping the H5N1 avian influenza virus under control” yet “the H5N1 avian influenza crisis is far from over.”

Bird flu remains a serious threat to the livelihoods of poultry farmers. The control of outbreaks requires massive culling of any birds that may be infected and leaves farmers waiting for government compensation that may or may not come. But the gravest concerns over bird flu stem from the fact that it can be passed from birds to humans. Experts worry that the H5N1 virus could mutate and become transmissible from person-to-person, at which point it would become far more dangerous.

Here are some resources to learn more about H5N1 bird flu, the threat it poses to humans, and what poultry farmers can do to prevent its spread:
-The World Health Organization’s home page on the disease:
http://www.who.int/csr/disease/avian_influenza/en/ [1]
-The World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) home page on the disease:
http://www.oie.int/eng/info_ev/en_AI_avianinfluenza.htm [2]
-The Poultry Site’s home page on the disease:
http://www.thepoultrysite.com/bird-flu/bird-flu-news.php [3]
-Wikipedia’s entry on the disease:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/H5N1 [4]

Your radio organization can play a role in stopping the spread of avian flu by raising awareness of the disease and of its prevention measures. The following Farm Radio scripts may help you develop programming:
-“Biosecurity – A new way to look at avian flu prevention [5]” (Package 79, Script 7, November 2006)
-“Avian Influenza Spots [6]” (Package 79, Script 2, November 2006)

You could also hold an on-air round table discussion with local experts on avian flu. Try to include people knowledgeable about both the human and animal health risks, and at least one farmer who is taking measures to protect their farm from the disease. Ask the experts to explain what the local threat is (for example, whether infections have been identified in the area, or if there are factors that make the area vulnerable) and the best way for people to reduce their risk. Be sure to allow time for listeners to call or text in with any comments or questions.