The bird flu virus is now on the move. The bird flu virus has made an appearance in Eastern Europe; Turkey. After the confirmation of the deaths of the individuals in Turkey with bird flu the European Union stepped up its efforts to contain the deadly virus from spreading further. European Union promptly increased it importation ban on birds and revised its surveillance efforts. The EU had originally banned imports of live birds and poultry products like feathers from Turkey and recently extended the ban to include imports from Azerbaijan, Armenia, Iraq, Iran, Georgia and Syria. By stepping up on sanctions and embargoes the EU hopes to control the spread of the H5N1 across the borders. The real test however, will come about when the virus is able to be transmitted from person to person. This is one of the first signs of a global pandemic.
Authorities in Britain are gearing up to move their pandemic planning into a new phase with the arrival of the Bird flu to Turkey. Turkey is considered the gateway to Europe from Asia. The European Union has pledged $100 million to help countries prepare and deal with the impending threat of the bird flu. Other countries in the EU have started putting their contingency plans into effect. These plans include different strategies; France is conducting flu outbreak simulation exercises to see how prepared they are and have also extended the ban on backyard poultry raising to include more than half of the country, and Netherlands is preparing a massive campaign to have its birds vaccinated against the virus. As with any other pandemic, once the disease crosses into Europe it will threaten the health of the general European population therefore, effectively jeopardizing economic growth and poverty alleviation.
Impact on Travel Industry
There are currently no substantial impacts to the travel industry; Europeans are still traveling to destinations all over Europe and Asia. The risk of contracting the bird flu is low for travelers as the virus is yet to be transmitted from person-to person. The bird flu virus can only be contracted by coming in contact with contaminated surfaces or coming in direct contact with an infected bird.
Europeans are eating less chicken, possibly because of the looming threat of the bird flu virus. This decline will affect the financial aspects of the poultry industry. It is expected that half the work force of some of the major European business will be out sick or looking after sick family members. People will start staying away from public places like theater, restaurants and transport systems causing a huge blow to the economy.
Many of the European countries have contingency plans that will go into effect in the event of the bird flu pandemic. The contingency plans are designed for different pandemic scenarios. They cover business staffing aspects; letting employees telecommute, hence avoiding public transportation and the risk of contracting bird flu. Some of the European Union nations are stocking piling the antiviral medication Tamiflu.