Bird flu could hit the Caribbean region as
early as next year, according to a warning sounded by a government
health official in Dominica.
Dr. Paul Ricketts
said that the H5N1 strain of avian flu, which has killed or forced
the slaughter of millions of chickens and ducks across Asia since
2003 and has spread recently to Europe, Africa and the Middle East
by migrating birds, could hit North America this year.
The virus could
then travel to the Caribbean with the summer southerly migration of
birds, Ricketts said.
In response to
the warning, Dominicas ministries of agriculture and health are
drawing up plans to combat the virus.
health officials and veterinarians from the Caribbean will meet in
Trinidad on April 4 to discuss a regional response to the
is set for April 19 in Colombia to consider a bird flu plan for
Latin America and the Caribbean.
No outbreaks have
been reported in the Caribbean thus far, although there have been
184 confirmed human cases and 103 deaths linked to the virus
reporter Gay Nagle Myers, send e-mail to [email protected].