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Bird Flu Has Cost Asia an Estimated $8-12 Billion

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The bird flu outbreak in Asia has already cost the region about $8 billion to $12 billion and is intensifying pressure for tighter biosecurity, a report by investment bank CLSA says.

In the report, entitled “One Flu Over the Chicken’s Nest: Is a Killer Bird Flu Pandemic Upon Us?,” CLSA said investors had not focused on the disease even though it had devastated the agri-industries of several Asian countries.The H5N1 strain of avian influenza, which can jump from birds to humans, has killed 49 people since 2003, 16 since the disease erupted anew in December.The World Health Organization has issued repeated warnings in recent months about the increasing risk of a global influenza pandemic emerging from the bird flu crisis in Asia.CLSA said it was difficult to assign a probability or timetable for a pandemic but the epicenter would likely be Thailand, Vietnam or China.The economies of Hong Kong, Singapore and China would be hit hardest initially by a pandemic, based on healthcare expenditure and tourist arrivals per capita and total trade divided by gross domestic product.However, as those countries had greater resources to combat the disease they may suffer fewer fatalities than poorer areas, the report said.”It is presumed that the economic consequences for Asia and the rest of the world will be more severe if the epicenter for the initial outbreaks were in southern China as opposed to Vietnam or Thailand,” the report said.The report was commissioned by U.S.-based Bio Economic Research Associates.The spread of the virus among poultry has proved extremely difficult to stamp out in Thailand, Vietnam and Cambodia.North Korea recently reported cases among poultry, prompting China and South Korea to tighten quarantine controls on their borders with the Stalinist state.More than 140 million birds have died or been culled in Asia because of the disease, significantly disrupting poultry production and trade. CLSA said that would accelerate the shift of poultry production from small farms to large-scale operations, which have been most successful in containing the disease.(Source: Reuters Health, April 2005)

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Posted On: 6 April, 2005
Modified On: 16 January, 2014


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