Lack of preparedness for the latest avian influenza outbreak has again caused scenes of inhumane treatment


CIWF response to outbreak of Avian 'flu

Avian influenza - CIWF's concerns

CIWF calls on governments to prevent both human and animal suffering

Lack of preparedness for the latest avian influenza outbreak has again caused scenes of inhumane treatment, with live birds bagged in sacks alongside the dead and dying. The Turkish authorities have now called on the public to bury their own birds to speed up the cull as further cases of infection are reported.

CIWF has written to the Turkish government to highlight the need for avian influenza management to be swift, efficient – and also humane. Turkey has signed up to the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) guidelines on humane killing for disease control, which specify that animals should suffer immediate death or should be stunned and remain unconscious until death. The OIE guidelines require that avian influenza management is fully planned, with veterinary supervision and sufficient resources. There is some evidence from the recent outbreak that suggests in some cases the authorities have tried to implement gas killing, but other culls have clearly been inhumane.

Without clear planning, skilled personnel, veterinary oversight and good biosecurity, the risk of harm to animals and further spread of the infection will greatly increase. There is another risk too – that to human health. Where the public is exposed to infected birds, such as when they are required to bury their own birds, the risk of humans catching avian influenza increases. All human deaths from avian influenza have so far resulted from exposure to infected birds.

Representatives of the world’s governments will meet again next week, as the World Bank, the OIE, the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation and the World Health Organisation gather in China to pledge financial support for global efforts to prevent and manage avian influenza. This meeting follows on from the November 2005 Geneva Summit, where CIWF was the lone animal welfare voice present at the meeting, calling for governments to treat affected birds humanely.

CIWF has called on governments to commit sufficient resources now; to ensure that all efforts are taken to minimise the spread of avian influenza and, where outbreaks occur, that culls are swift, efficient and humane, in order to prevent both animal and human suffering.

Further information about the virus and how it has spread can be found on our
Fact Sheet: What is avian influenza?

What you can do

* Support CIWF's work
* Take Action

Further information and links:

* CIWF Outline Brief
* CIWF Vaccination Strategies for Avian Influenza
* Humane slaughter methods when dealing with Avian Influenza
* World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) website
* World Health Organisation website
* Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations website

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