In 2004, bird flu, also known as avian influenza, has become a major health scare in Asia, causing several human deaths and the culling of millions of chickens.
In some countries, i.e. Korea,Thailand and Vietnam, in an effort to halt the rapid spread of bird flu in domestic poultry flocks, it has been reported that chickens have been burnt or buried alive in sacks. This has outraged animal rights groups around the world. However, the threat to human health and to Asia’s poultry products market is very serious.
In January, the World Health Organisation (WHO) warned that bird flu has the potential to be a more serious problem than Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS). Bird flu is caused by an influenza virus and is not related to SARS (which is caused by a corovavirus). However, both viruses originally occur in animals and can spread to humans.