25 Sep 2006

SPC to spend 3 million US on testing for avian flu

7:36 am on 25 September 2006

The Secretariat of the Pacific Community, or SPC, says it will spend about three-million US dollars to conduct avian flu tests among poultry and wildlife birds in the region in the next four years.

The key concern is the H5N1 avian influenza strain because of its potential to mutate and trigger a human pandemic.

The SPC's veterinary epidemiologist, Dr Stephen Angus, says it will conduct data throughout the region in cooperation with individual governments.

"We have a new project starting this year, which is to combat the threat of avian influenza to the entire region. Most of our efforts are concentrated at improving surveillance, although improving the capability of diagnostics is part of the plan."

Dr Angus says depending on the country or territory and the conditions there, researchers will test wild birds or/and poultry.

He says the disease has not been found in the region to this date.