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Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Pacific Health Officers to conclude two day meeting on avian and pandemic influenza in Noumea today

A two day meeting of more than 80 human and animal health officers from Pacific governments and international and regional organisations will be concluded today at the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC) headquarters in New Caledonia.

The ‘Pacific Island Pandemic Taskforce Meeting’ takes place only a few days after the meeting of Pacific Ministers of Health in Port Vila, Vanuatu recognised the importance of being prepared for a pandemic.

Avian influenza is principally a disease of poultry and this is still the current situation. However, it is possible that the H5N1 strain that was spreading around the world could become transmissible between people leading to a global influenza pandemic comparable to that of 1918.

An Epidemiologist at SPC, Dr Tom Kiedrzynski, said the 1918 influenza pandemic proved devastating to several Pacific island countries killing around 25 percent of the population in Samoa, 15 percent in Tahiti and 5 percent in Fiji and Guam.

He said a pandemic influenza was a serious threat that the Pacific must address.

Source: Islands Business

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