Eradication depends on mass culling

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WASHINGTON – The success of eradication of bird flu in affected countries in Asia heavily depends on mass culling, according to the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization.

“Mass culling in affected areas is currently considered as the most effective way of stamping out the highly contagious virus that has so far hit 10 countries in Asia,” said Hans Wagner, senior animal production and health officer.

Too slow. Wagner is concerned, however, that mass culling is not taking place fast enough to contain the virus H5N1 in the region.

“Compensation is often a limiting factor,” he added.

“As long as small farmers and commercial producers, especially in poorer countries, do not receive an adequate financial incentive for killing their chickens, they will probably not apply suggested emergency measures,” he said.

Need income. Many of these small poultry producers depend on selling their chickens and eggs on local markets to earn a daily income.

“The fear of losing their animals without some kind of compensation is a real threat to them,” Wagner said.

To date, more than 25 million birds have been culled in the campaign against avian flu.

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