Conclusions

• The past influenza pandemics of the twentieth century were all of avian origin. The natural reservoir for influenza is suspected to be aquatic birds (ducks, geese) because they commonly exhibit no ill effects to low-pathogenic avian influenza.

• Climate changes that influence wild water bird habitat, migration, and stopover sites could be a factor in global distribution of avian virus agents and possibly the emergence of a new pandemic influenza strain.

• Climate change as well as globalization could promote the spread of avian influenza and create a global pandemic. However, for global warming, there has not been any evidence to show that it makes human influenza pandemics more likely. Alarmist statements blaming migrants for the spread of an emerging disease with pandemic potential and ignoring or underplaying the role of the poultry industry do not do justice to the complexity of the issues involved.

• With avian influenza prevention and control measures, many countries have been able to contain or even eradicate the disease. Pandemics might be stopped at the very start, but it does not look like the current situation can be stopped; just delayed and slowed down.

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