Avian influenza (AI) represents one of the greatest concerns for animal and public health that has emerged in recent times. Since the late 1990s there has been a sharp increase in the number of outbreaks of AI globally. It has been calculated that the impact of AI on the poultry industry has increased 100-fold based on comparison of the 40-year period from 1959 to 1998, with 23 million birds affected, and over 200 million birds from 1999 to 2004 (Capua and Alexander, 2004).
The human health implications of this AI virus infection were revealed during the 1997 Hong Kong A/H5N1 outbreak, the A/H7N7 2003 outbreak in the Netherlands and with the current H5N1 virus causing the death of 151 individuals (16 October 2006). The implications to human health are not limited to direct infection by an avian influenza virus. They assume a greater magnitude if reassortment occurs following concurrent human infection with an avian and human influenza virus, which could present the basis for the generation of a new human pandemic virus, with potentially devastating consequences. More recently, this has been clearly demonstrated following the emergence and rapid global spread of the pandemic (H1N1) 2009 virus from April/May 2009 (Irvine and Brown, 2009), resulting in the declaration by the WHO of pandemic alert phase 6 in June 2009.
Avian Influenza is a highly contagious trans-boundary animal disease, able to spread in a susceptible population in a short period of time. Therefore, the prompt identification of infected animals is crucial for control and eradication purposes. Diagnostic tests must be appropriate for the setting in which they will be used, be properly validated and ‘fit for purpose’.
FLU-LAB-NET is an European Union Framework 6 Programme to deliver new opportunities for the enhancement and reinforcement of the Community Reference Laboratory (the United Kingdom Animal Health & Veterinary Laboratories Agency) and National Reference Laboratory network for avian influenza (AI) within the EU.
This conference is for scientists, biologists, veterinarians, medics, and government regulators who are interested in the exchange and discussion of current scientific information on avian influenza. Conference speakers will be international experts from universities, government research laboratories and regulatory agencies, the veterinary biologics industry, the poultry production industry and other veterinary-related organizations in Europe, North America, Asia, and Australia.
The symposium will address national and international issues. The scientific program will be a blend of basic and applied research and application. It is intended to give all who attend a broader understanding of the global nature of avian influenza and a framework to develop international solutions. It will enable professionals to exchange research data and ideas, while building ties with colleagues worldwide.
As part of the FLU-LAB-NET Programme, a range of videos have been developed covering Avian Influenza biosecurity and bisosafety issues. These can be found on the Video Training Resources page and are also available in a range of different subtitled languages.
For more information about the FLU-LAB-NET project please contact us