Beginning next week, bird flu specialists from 40 countries will be linked through an international network to discuss strategies to control and fight the disease, which has already struck various Asian and European countries.

    The agreement to create an International Association of Public Health Institutes, bringing together nations such as Brazil, the United States, Great Britain, and China, was signed Tuesday, January 31, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

    The Association is expected to fight all types of epidemics, such as AIDS and dengue fever, but part of its initial efforts will be focused on bird flu, a potentially fatal disease transmitted by birds to humans.

    According to the president of the Oswaldo Cruz Foundation (FIOCRUZ), Paulo Buss, who will represent Brazil in the Association, the contact among specialists through the network will be constant and real-time.

    "We shall maintain on-line contact on the incidence of cases in the countries that belong to the network, and we shall seek improvements in the prevention and treatment of the disease," he said.

    According to Buss, apart from the 40 countries’ joint efforts, Brazil has already taken steps to prevent the disease from arriving and spreading in the country.

    "The first thing is not to permit the arrival of infected birds. If they do enter, we have to encircle the area where the outbreak occurred and sacrifice the birds en masse. But we also have hospital backup and a stock of Tamiflu, which is the trade name of the medication that, if taken the first day, can control the flu and reduce the aggressiveness of the virus.

    And we are prepared to manufacture the vaccine, which can only really be done after the first human infection is detected," he affirmed.

    The Association will conduct integrated activities, such as human resource exchanges in the area of public health, information exchanges on diagnostic methods and disease prevention, and the deployment of technical personnel to countries where epidemics occur.

    Agência Brasil

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