April 11, 2013
The World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) on Thursday said H7N9 bird flu posed an "exceptional situation" as the outbreak among Chinese poultry claimed a 10th human victim.
"Based on the information currently available we are facing a rather exceptional situation," said OIE chief Bernard Vallat, explaining that the virus, while dangerous to humans, was hard to detect in the host, which is farm birds.
"We are dealing with an influenza virus of very low pathogenicity for poultry which has the potential to cause severe disease when it infects humans," Vallat said in a statement.
The Paris-based OIE said that, based on reports sent to it by the Chinese veterinary authorities, infected birds "do not show any visible signs of disease, making it very difficult to detect this virus in poultry."
The OIE is the world's monitor for the health of farm animals traded across borders.
"At the international level, the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO), the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) and the World Health Organisation (WHO) are working together to support China's efforts to manage this new and evolving situation," the OIE statement added.