Animal Health and Production

Livestock plays an important role in the social, cultural and economic environment of Pacific Island communities. Indeed many, of the important social and cultural events in island life cannot be properly carried out without the slaughter and presentation of livestock in sufficient numbers. The Animal Health and Production thematic team works together in the Pacific region to develop prosperous, efficient and sustainable animal health and production systems, producing healthy animals and safe products for food security and income generation.

WHO/SPC response to swine flu threat in Pacific
Thursday, 21 January 2010 16:17

The World Health Organization (WHO) and the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC) are working to support PICTs in responding quickly and efficiently to this public health threat. The priority is to ensure that countries’ surveillance systems are working, as well as their laboratory testing procedures to detect any suspected cases.

‘We have asked all PICTs to immediately notify WHO if they identify any suspected cases of the swine flu as requested by the International Health Regulations.’’ says Dr Jacob Kool, Communicable Disease Surveillance and Response, World Health Organization Office for the South Pacific. ‘They are also asked to report to us twice a week on the total number of influenza cases’.
Health authorities in all PICTs were initially alerted about the situation last Saturday (25 April).
Updates on how it is evolving and technical advice on public health measures and precautions that need to be implemented urgently are now being provided regularly.

‘We started working intensively with PICTs on pandemic preparedness four years ago when we designed the Pacific Regional Influenza Pandemic Preparedness Project (PRIPPP) in collaboration with WHO, the World Animal Health Organisation (OIE) and the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO),’ says Dr Tom Kiedrzynski, Epidemiologist at SPC.

PICTs are encouraged to activate their pandemic preparedness plans according to the WHO Influenza Pandemic Phases. The preparedness strategies developed and tested in recent years under PRIPPP will assist countries in dealing with this potentially alarming situation. 

For more information, please contact: Christelle Lepers, Surveillance Information Officer at SPC – Tel. +687 26 01 81 or WHO South Pacific: +679-3234100
WHAT IS SWINE FLU? Despite the name (“swine influenza”), this is a disease that is spread from person to person, like regular flu.

WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS?   The infection causes a flu-like severe respiratory disease, with sudden onset of high fever, plus a cough or sore throat.  The symptoms can vary from mild to very severe.  Other symptoms may include sneezing, body aches, and tiredness.  In some cases in Mexico, nausea and vomiting was also reported.   In severe cases, swine flu may lead to difficulty breathing and even death. Most severe illness and deaths have been reported from Mexico; in other countries the illness has generally been mild. 

HOW IS THE DISEASE SPREAD?   Like most respiratory infections, swine influenza is spread from person to person only through close contact: e.g. touching, shaking hands, or kissing.  It can also be spread by a sick person through coughing, sneezing, or talking, but only at close distance (< 2 meters).

HOW CAN THE DISEASE BE TREATED?   There are medicines that can help fight this infection, but they only work if given quickly and are only available from a doctor, so you must seek care RIGHT AWAY.

IS THERE A VACCINE FOR THIS DISEASE?   Not yet. Authorities are working to develop a vaccine but it will likely take several months before a vaccine is available.

•    Wash your hands frequently with soap and water and avoid touching your face
•    Cover your nose and mouth when you cough or sneeze
•    Wear a mask if you are sick, and wear it in crowded places if you are in an affected area
•    Avoid close contact with sick people (standing closer than 6 feet, touching, kissing, hugging)
•    Visit a health practitioner immediately if you think you may have swine flu, i.e. if you develop flu symptoms within 7 days after visiting an affected area.  Make sure to tell them about your travel history
•    Stay home if you feel ill (except to get medical attention)

•    Yes. This disease is spread from person to person. It is not spread by pork meat. Pork that is handled properly and cooked thoroughly is safe to eat.
The World Health Organization is coordinating the global response to the swine influenza A (H1N1) outbreak and is monitoring the corresponding threat of an influenza pandemic.

The Pacific Regional Influenza Pandemic Preparedness Project (PRIPPP) has been designed to build the capacity of PICTs to deal with the potential threat of emerging infectious diseases, in particular avian influenza and pandemic influenza. Swine influenza is one such threat. The project is implemented by SPC in collaboration with WHO, the World Animal Health Organisation (OIE) and the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), and with financial assistance from AusAID and NZAID. It covers 22 Pacific Island countries and territories*. PRIPPP is completed by a project funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on strengthening influenza surveillance in PICTs. _____________________________________________________________________________
American Samoa, Cook Islands, Federated States of Micronesia (FSM), Fiji Islands, French Polynesia, Guam, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Nauru, New Caledonia, Niue, Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI), Palau, Papua New Guinea (PNG), Pitcairn Islands, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tokelau, Tonga, Tuvalu, Vanuatu, and Wallis and Futuna.

Last Updated ( Thursday, 30 April 2009 )

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