Salgado moves to calm fears of bird flu pandemic
14 October 2005, MADRID — Spain's health minister attempted to calm fears of an outbreak of bird flu by saying: "We are prepared".
14 October 2005
MADRID — Spain's health minister attempted to calm fears of an outbreak of bird flu by saying: "We are prepared".
Elena Salgado told a press conference the cases of avian flu detected in Turkey and Romania "do not mean that there is any greater risk than before that a mutation of the virus could cause a pandemic".
"Spain is prepared. The emergency plan against avian flu is sufficient."
Our epidemiological system is perfectly prepared to detect the first case should it happen and out health system is perfectly prepared to deal with the situation.
"We should not create unnecessary and unjust alarm."
Salgado said Spain was much more prepared than in 1918 and 1968 when the last outbreak of bird flu on a mass scale happened.
The move came after EU states were urged to stockpile anti-viral drugs after confirmation that the bird flu virus found in Turkey is the H5N1 strain dangerous to humans.
EU Health Commissioner Markos Kyprianou said on Thursday the European Union should be ready for a potential flu pandemic.
It came after tests on dead birds from Kiziksa, north-west Turkey, confirmed the H5N1 strain. An outbreak in Romania is assumed to be the same, the EU said.
The H5N1 strain has killed more than 60 people in South East Asia since 2003.
However, of those only one is suspected to have died after catching the virus from another human.
Those who have been in the presence of dead or dying birds are most likely to become infected, and the chances of human-to-human transmission are still seen as very slim.
Spain has enough vaccine against this strain of virus to treat 4 percent of the population.
Speaking at a news conference, Mr Kyprianou advised seasonal flu vaccination for populations considered to be at risk and said governments should focus on stockpiling anti-viral drugs.
"What is important is that it does become a priority for all member states and that they make an investment for preparing for this event," he said.
Thousands of birds have already been culled in Turkey and Romania
The commissioner confirmed the virus found in Turkey was the deadly strain, adding: "There is a direct relationship with viruses found in Russia, Mongolia and China."
He went on: "It is a highly pathogenic and aggressive virus and we in the European Union have to deal with that."
The EU moved to ban all bird and poultry products from Romania on Thursday after tests on three ducks which died last week in the Danube delta confirmed the presence of the weaker H5 strain of bird flu.
Tests for the H5N1 strain are expected to be completed on the ducks this week.
The EU has also banned the export of live birds and feathers from Turkey, after the virus was discovered there. It announced on Wednesday the ban would be extended until April.
Subject: Spanish news