Bird Flu Alarm

Understanding Avian Influenza

Guide to countries' preparations

Guide to countries' preparations

The spread of bird flu has forced countries around the world to look at how they would tackle an outbreak.
Many have also developed plans to protect against the possibility that the virus will start to spread between humans.

The World Health Organization recommends countries should stockpile enough anti-viral drugs to cope with a pandemic, which it estimates would affect 25% of the population, but warns that developing countries in particular are likely to fall well short.

Contingency plan? All health workers to be vaccinated in the event of a bird flu outbreak, or if they have symptoms. People with non-communicable disease will be given anti-virals and medical supervision.

Vaccine research? Preparations to pay a company 5m euros for right to buy first stocks of any vaccine.

Anti-virals stocks? Three million doses available by the end of 2007, with an aim to protect 30% of the population.

Other information? Vets are to be made a priority.

Information correct as of 19 October 2005


Contingency plan? France says poultry confinement measures announced in October have been extended until May. The bans include keeping poultry outside in a quarter of departments deemed most at risk, holding fairs and exhibitions with wild birds, and feeding poultry outside.

France has asked for 40 million vaccine doses in the event of a human pandemic.

Vaccine research? French company Sanofi Pasteur - a major flu vaccine manufacturer - says trials of a human vaccine are promising and was scheduled to deliver 1.4 million doses to France's health ministry by the end of 2005. It is also contracted to supply the vaccine to the US and Australia.

Anti-virals stocks? France said it would have anti-viral drugs for 14 million individuals by the end of 2005.

Other information? Two hundred million face masks for use by hospital staff were ordered for 2006.

Information correct as of 9 January 2006

Contingency plan? Germany has now relaxed regulations confining poultry to pens in December. The alert level indicating the risk that bird flu will spread to Germany has been downgraded to "low" from "high to moderate".

Vaccine research? Each German state is responsible for ordering vaccine. The government is supporting the pharmaceutical industry with 20 million euros to develop a prototype vaccine, which is expected to be available within weeks.

Anti-virals stocks? A human flu pandemic is expected to infect a third of the German population. There are currently anti-viral stocks for one in 10 people.

Information correct as of 9 January 2006

Contingency plan? National action plan for epidemics submitted to EU in 2005. Major hospitals have developed a rapid reaction plan. The $1bn security measures for the 2004 Olympics included biological threats and left Greece comparatively well-prepared.

Vaccine research? No independent research.

Anti-virals stocks? After bird flu was found on the Aegean Sea island of Oinouses, queues formed at pharmacists and a national shortage of ordinary flu vaccine followed. Some 200,000 doses of anti-viral drug Tamiflu are due to arrive by the spring.

Other information? Greece, which has had no confirmed cases of the H5N1 strain, says it is on high alert following the outbreaks in Turkey. Border checks are being stepped up and lorries from Turkey are being disinfected. People crossing the borders are also being warned of the risks.

Information correct as of 11 January 2006

Contingency plan? Compulsory labelling of Italian poultry to include where chicken was raised and the date and place of slaughter. Poultry in various areas already vaccinated. Any imported poultry to be labelled with country of origin and date of entry. Extra vets and animal disease prevention experts recruited. Police units to enforce border controls.

Vaccine research? No information on research available. The Italian Health Ministry says 36 million doses will be available within three to four months of an outbreak.

Anti-virals stocks? 100m euros allocated to buy anti-viral drugs to cover 10% of the population, with over 30 million doses ordered.

Other information? No plans to ban hunting of wild birds.

Information correct as of 18 October 2005

Contingency plan? National pandemic plan in place.

Vaccine research? The Netherlands proposes EU-wide research. Negotiations to deliver vaccines under way with pharmaceutical companies.

Anti-virals stocks? Stocks of 220,000 are in place, with a further 2.4 million doses to be delivered by the end of the year. Another 2.4 million doses will be bought by early 2007.

Information correct as of 19 October 2005

Contingency plan? Farmers breeding poultry in Poland have to keep them in closed compartments.

Vaccine research? Not available.

Anti-virals stocks? Not available.

Other information? Poland is updating its plans.

Contingency plan? Measures in place since 13 October include establishing local and national committees for intervention. GPs are on alert to isolate anyone infected and advice has been given to the public. Influenza symptoms must be reported to a GP.

Vaccine research? Romania believes it is ready to manufacture a vaccine, but that it would need World Health Organization approval.

Anti-virals stocks? The state has 500,000 anti-viral doses, of which it has distributed 300,000. A further one million are on order. It has about 15,000 capsules of the anti-viral Tamiflu.

Other information? Special measures enforced in areas affected by bird flu include a cull of house birds, quarantine, vaccines for inhabitants, disinfectant spraying of vehicles and a ban on activities like fishing. The virus has been found in 23 sites in the Danube delta, and more than 120,000 birds have been culled since the first discovery of the virus in October.

Information correct as of 11 January 2006

Contingency plan? Avian flu plan adopted in August after first cases in Siberia. Protective suits and training in recognising symptoms recommended for people working with birds. In future there will be no chicken farm workers over 60, or with chronic cardiac and lung conditions.

Vaccine research? Research into vaccines is taking place, but details are a secret under Russian laws.

Anti-virals stocks? Sufficient stocks for each of its 150 million citizens. Drugs for treating people against ordinary flu are also being stockpiled.

Other information? Only trained doctors and biologists may work with birds showing avian flu symptoms. They must wear full protection suits. Ordinary people are discouraged from approaching places where there has been bird flu. Security measures are to be stepped up at airports and borders and scientists warn Russians not to go to Turkey on holiday.

Information correct as of 11 January 2006

Contingency plan? The government says it is extending measures imposed at the end of November through to May. The measures identify 25 wetland areas as high risk, and limit the movement of birds in those regions and bans keeping poultry in the open air anywhere in Spain.

Vaccine research? There are plans to build a factory to manufacture anti-virals in six years' time.

Anti-virals stocks? The Spanish government says it has ordered up to 10 million doses of anti-viral drugs (up from an initial order of two million doses) which will cater for almost a quarter of the population.

Information correct as of 9 January 2006

Contingency plan? National bird-flu action plan drawn up in 2001. Mass bird cull taking place in affected regions and international experts sent to find out how quickly virus is spreading.

Imports of birds and poultry products from Greece, Iran and Romania have been banned.

Vaccine research No vaccine being developed in Turkey, which imports up to 300,000 ordinary flu vaccines a year.

Anti-virals stocks? The Turkish health ministry is said to have 15,000 courses of Tamiflu anti-viral medication, with another 100,000 on order.

Other information Most people keep a few chickens in their backyards, making it virtually impossible to police hygiene standards. Russia has advised citizens not to travel to Turkey, and Iran has closed one of the crossings on its border with Turkey.

Information correct as of 9 January 2006

Contingency plan? Measures to prevent a bird flu outbreak are under review, and it updated its pandemic contingency plan in October 2005. A ban on bird fairs, markets and shows imposed has been lifted. Commercial poultry owners have until 28 February to list their birds on a central register. Doctors have been advised on what to do in the event of a human pandemic.

Vaccine research? The UK is participating in efforts to develop a vaccine against H5N1. Manufacturers have been asked to tender for a contract to supply two million doses of H5N1 vaccine for immediate frontline use before a vaccine against the exact flu strain is manufactured.

Anti-virals stocks? A stockpile of 14.6 million courses of anti-viral drugs is being built up. So far the UK has 4 million doses, with the full amount expected by August 2006.

Other information? A £10m ($17.6m) research programme into bird flu and other infectious diseases is to be set up, according to the Medical Research Council.

Information correct as of 9 January 2006

Contingency plan? An emergency plan using four levels of alert - red (very serious), orange (serious), yellow (quite serious) and blue (normal) is in place. Agricultural authorities must monitor areas at most risk of avian flu. In December, China was about halfway through vaccinating its poultry - some 14 billion ducks and chickens - against bird flu. It also said it had developed a much cheaper, domestically developed bird flu vaccine for animals, and hoped to produce a billion doses by the end of the year.

Vaccine research? A Chinese company also says it has begun trials of a vaccine against H5N1 for humans, though scientists caution it is difficult to prepare such a vaccine before the precise strain of any virus that might be transmissible from human to human is known.

Anti-virals stocks? Bird flu patients are being treated with Tamiflu, Amantadine, and Rimantadine according to their symptoms. China is trying to stockpile drugs, but the number of doses is not available.

Other information? Closer links between health and agriculture ministries established, to fight bird flu.

Information correct as of 9 January 2006

Contingency plan? Urgent and free hospital treatment for people who test positive for bird flu. People asked to keep homes and areas where birds are kept clean. Chicken should be prepared properly and deaths of chickens should be reported.

Vaccine research? Not available.

Anti-virals stocks? Indonesia has about 30,000 doses of Tamiflu available. These will be distributed through 44 hospitals and, by prescription, through pharmacies.

Other information? Indonesia opposes mass culling due to the costs involved and the huge number of people who keep a small number of chickens. A review of laws under which farms can deny access to the authorities is planned.

Information correct as of 24 October 2005

Contingency plan? Following cases of bird flu near the Russian border, several thousand birds were destroyed and quarantine enforced. Wild and domestic fowl have been tested to check for the presence of bird flu. The government is prepared to import vaccine if necessary. Laboratories have been given funds to buy protective clothing and equipment.

Vaccine research? Kazakhstan produces few drugs, and no research into vaccines is being done.

Anti-virals stocks? There are no figures available on antiviral stockpiles. Money has been provided to buy vaccines from abroad in case bird flu spreads in the country. Some chicken farms have bought stocks of vaccine.

Other information? Kazakhstan lies on three main flyways for migratory bird species, but there is not much public discussion of bird flu. Wildlife officers have been told to watch for sick or dying birds. The autumn hunting season was delayed by a month to prevent contact between dying birds and humans.

Information correct as of 21 October

Contingency plan? People have been advised to cook chicken properly and to avoid any meat with dark, bloody of bruised spots. Eggs should be clean. Poultry farmers must watch for signs of disease in chickens and clean cages and equipment frequently. Poultry farmers should also wear protective clothing.

Vaccine research? Trials for a human vaccine could begin next year.

Anti-virals stocks? An order has been placed for one million Tamiflu, with 660,000 in stock.

Information correct as of 21 October 2005