Iranian officials culled 25 million heads of poultry following the recent appearance of fresh bird flu cases, the Iranian Labor News Agency (ILNA) reported Monday.
Speaking to ILNA, Nasir Nebipur, head of the Tehran Chicken and Egg Association, said a whopping 40 percent of the nation’s poultry had been slaughtered due to bird flu fears.
Nebipur went on to point out that the massive cull had led to a dramatic decrease in egg production, leading in turn to skyrocketing egg prices.
In order to meet the public demand for eggs, Iran is now importing 50 trucks of eggs from Turkey each week, the news agency reported.
Also known as H5N1, the bird flu -- which has caused 454 deaths worldwide since 2003 -- can be transmitted to local poultry stocks through migratory birds, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).
Humans can reportedly become infected by the virus by eating infected poultry.
World must act faster to prevent pandemic diseases, UN risk chief says
The world must ramp up efforts to prevent huge infectious disease outbreaks - such as flu strains that can jump from animals to humans - which could kill millions of people, the chief of the U.N.'s disaster risk agency said on Saturday.The use of vaccine technologies and disease surveillance is very low across most of the world because the dangers posed by pandemics are "out of sight, out of mind", said Robert Glasser, head of the United Nations' Office for Disaster Risk Reduction."We've had the emergence of new viruses and viruses are mutating all the time, like avian influenza, SARS ... people are not generally aware of them because they are hazards that don't strike very often," he told the Thomson Reuters Foundation."But when they do strike, they can be enormously devastating," Glasser said on the sidelines of the World Urban Forum - the world's biggest conference on urban issues."In this area, there is so much work to do."Different strains of bird flu spread across Europe, Africa and Asia over the last year, leading to large-scale slaughtering of poultry in certain countries and some human deaths in China.The number of viral strains circulating and causing infections have reached unprecedented levels, experts say.Their greatest fear is that a deadly strain of avian flu could then mutate into a pandemic form that can be passed easily between people - something that has not yet been seen."This could lead to millions of deaths globally," said Glasser, who will leave his post at the end of the month.The World Bank last year launched a "pandemic bond" to support an emergency financing facility to release cash quickly to fight a major health crisis such as the 2014 Ebola outbreak.The catastrophe bond, which will pay out depending on the size of the outbreak, its growth rate and the number of countries affected, is the first of its kind for epidemics.Glasser said general disaster risk reduction efforts are too often top-down and focused on global issues and policy talks.Yet huge progress is still being made on the ground - such as reducing the death toll from huge disasters, he added.Better early warning systems and community involvement in evacuation planning have helped countries such as Bangladesh and Mexico soften the blow of cyclones and hurricanes, Glasser said."What we've seen over the past decade is a steady drop in loss of life from major hazards that strike."
CDC reports flu season is similar to 2009 swine flu
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced Friday that the current influenza season is by some measurements on par with the “swine flu” epidemic of 2009.The flu season, which started in October in the United States, may not have yet peaked, either. The CDC said 10 children died of the flu in the week ending Feb. 3, bringing the total pediatric death count to 63.The flu season is at high levels in 43 states, Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia.“We were hoping to have better news to share today, but unfortunately it looks like this flu season continues to be particularly challenging,” Dr. Anne Schuchat, the acting CDC director, said in a conference call with reporters. “We may be on track to break some recent records.”The hospitalization rate for the flu this season sits at 59.9 per 100,000 people. Roughly one in seven visits to the doctor last week were due to symptoms traditionally connected to the flu. The CDC said this is the highest rate in recent years and a level not seen since the swine flu pandemic nine years ago.While there were no specifically new strains of the flu this year, the viruses ripping through the U.S. are hard to control with the flu vaccine. In particular, the strain influenza A H3N2, which has caused the most illness so far this season, is hard to contain through vaccination. However, the CDC said vaccination can help lower the severity of H3N2 infections.“This season is a wake-up call about how severe influenza can be and how we can never let our guard down,” Schuchat continued.In the weekly report, however, the CDC revealed that levels of H3N2 appear to be dropping. Influenza B strains and influenza A H1N1 are still increasing, though.