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'Bird flu outbreak unavoidable in Kabul'

A UN official said migratory birds that can carry the illness are already arriving in Kabul, which makes the outbreak of flu unavoidable.

india Updated: Feb 22, 2006 15:55 IST
Associated Press
Associated Press

An outbreak of bird flu is virtually unavoidable in Afghanistan, and the local government and donor nations have been slow in acting to prevent the deadly disease from spreading to the country, a UN official said on Wednesday.

Migratory birds that can carry the illness are already arriving in Afghanistan, said Serge Verniau, the representative for the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation in Afghanistan.

"With cases of the deadly disease detected in Iran and India, Afghanistan is practically surrounded," Verniau said.

"Today, we can say an outbreak of the disease among birds in Afghanistan is virtually unavoidable."

Verniau said that one month ago, the Rome-based U.N. organization warned that action must be taken in Afghanistan but little has been done.

"The authorities in Afghanistan and donors have been slow to act," he told reporters at Hashmat Khan Lake, a popular stop for migrating water fowl on the outskirts of the capital, Kabul.

The UN organisation has initiated a $1.5 million project for emergency preventative measures.

So far, a lab in Kabul has tested 455 wild birds and domestic poultry, but the results have been sent to a laboratory in Italy to be verified, said Abdul Habib Nowruz, director of migratory birds for the UN organisation.

Nowruz provided no details about the preliminary results.

First Published: Feb 22, 2006 15:07 IST