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Avian Influenza has become one of the biggest threats for human and animal health. The old paradigm was that the disease in waterfowl, poultry, pigs and man was caused by separate viruses that each stayed reasonably well within their own niche. The only danger to man was considered being infected by pigs, being the mixing vessel, where avian and human influenza viruses could come together and exchange genetic material to form new viruses that are potentially dangerous to man.
This has dramatically proven wrong during the last decade, with huge outbreaks in the USA, Europe, and Asia. The H5N1 strain that caused human deaths in Hong Kong appeared to be transmitted directly from poultry to man. This initiated sudden awareness that pigs were not a necessary intermediate in the transmission chain. During the AI outbreaks in Italy, mutation of low-pathogenicity viruses into high-pathogenicity viruses in poultry appeared another new threat, and further evidence that the poultry sector had a wolf in sheep's clothing. It put pressure on development of diagnostic methods that could be used in large monitoring programmes.
In The Netherlands a human fatality, after increased reports of conjunctivitis during a H7N7 outbreak, signalled that different AI strains could be fatal to man. Also, the huge economic losses and difficulties in controlling the spread of the infection in densely populated poultry areas, problems with vaccination and lack of marker vaccines demonstrated that the current control policy must be improved. These events led to an international AI conference with experts from Asia, USA and Europe.
In this book you will find new views on the issues, expert opinions and the results of in-depth discussions among avian experts of around the world that do not want to give up against this dangerous virus.
Preface.- Introduction and spread of avian influenza.- Outbreaks in densely populated poultry areas.- Vaccination.- Control measures and legislation.- Economics of avian influenza control.- Concluding remarks.- List of participants.