Policy Papers on the Americas: Responding to an Influenza Pandemic in the Americas
August 15, 2006
Although there have been no reported cases of avian influenza in poultry or humans in the Americas, the threat of an outbreak is ever-present, with potentially devastating results in human and economic terms. According to estimates from the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the Americas are responsible for some 47 percent of poultry produced worldwide each year and constitute the largest poultry-exporting region in the world. While the vast majority of this production is through large-scale commercial enterprise, many millions of people in the Americas, above all the rural poor in Latin America and the Caribbean, live in direct contact with chickens and pigs—another host of avian influenza. Considering the scale of poultry production in the region, outbreaks of highly pathogenic avian influenza A viruses with high transmissibility, morbidity, and mortality would have a major health and economic impact in the region as well as other social consequences.