German scientists slam ignorance about bird flu

27th October 2005, Comments 0 comments

27 October 2005, HANOVER, GERMANY - German scientists criticized Thursday public ignorance about avian influenza, saying it was being overlooked in the current scare that the virus only rarely infects humans.

27 October 2005

HANOVER, GERMANY - German scientists criticized Thursday public ignorance about avian influenza, saying it was being overlooked in the current scare that the virus only rarely infects humans.

But they said public relations work also needed to begin in Germany, where animal rights are protected by the constitution, to explain why mass slaughtering of birds would be needed if the disease reached the country's poultry farms.

Adolf Windorfer, who heads the Lower Saxony state health office, said, "This virus is a terrible danger economically, but it is an animal disease. It only spreads to people in the rarest cases."

At a conference on avian influenza attended by 150 German experts, disease experts said the people most at risk if the virus reached the country would be poultry workers: they would have to wear protective clothing and regularly wash their hands during work.

Up to this week, 62 persons in Asia have caught the H5N1 strain of the disease from birds and died. A concern for scientists is that the strain could mutate and act like existing contagious human influenza viruses.

Thomas Blaha of Hanover Veterinary College said, "It has not been made plain enough yet that if the disease breaks out in Germany, we will need to slaughter very large stocks of birds."

To gain public acceptance for this, it needed to be explained that this was for the public good and unavoidable.

DPA

Subject: German news

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