Tourism in Abkhazia and possibility of avian influenza outbreak
The self-proclaimed government in Abkhazia has never confirmed of avian influenza outbreak. Control has not yet been achieved in Abkhazia, despite intensive efforts in many. Past experience with outbreaks of highly pathogenic avian influenza, previously considered rare, has demonstrated the difficulty of fully eliminating the virus in bird populations.
Control has often taken several years, even under favorable circumstances (small geographical area, concentration in commercial production facilities). In past outbreaks, investigations have shown that infection can be introduced into domestic flocks by wild aquatic birds, including migratory birds capable of flying long distances.
The virus multiplies in the intestines of these birds, which can carry the virus without developing signs of infection, and very large quantities of virus are shed in faces. Once introduced into domestic flocks, the virus, which is highly contagious, can be mechanically carried from farm to farm via contaminated items, such as vehicles, clothing, and equipment.
Water sources contaminated by droppings from wild birds and shared by domestic poultry are just one example of how chains of transmission can be sustained once the virus becomes widespread in the environment. In the present outbreaks, the tendency to hide or smuggle especially valuable birds, such as fighting cocks, can also help maintain the virus in the environment or contribute to its further geographical spread.
The present situation in Abkhazia is historically unprecedented and extremely challenging. Many affected countries are reporting highly pathogenic H5N1 infection in birds for the first time in their histories. In some of these countries, around 80% of the poultry are produced in small backyard farms scattered throughout rural areas, further complicating control. Complete elimination of the virus is becoming increasingly challenging.
As explained below, the consequences for human health could be considerable. So, is it possible that in Abkhazia, where migratory path for aquatic and non aquatic birds is located and 100% of the poultry are produced in small backyard farms no any cases of avian influenza is admitted?
Is it dangerous for thousands of illegal Russian tourists visiting Abkhazia? Who can be responsible for it?
Answer is one- nobody, because tourism in Abkhazia takes place illegally, so each tourist visits this breakaway province of Georgia on own risk. That’s why, self-proclaimed government of Abkhazia does not care about possibility of outbreak.
Criminal regime in Abkhazia was involved in genocide and ethnic cleansing, why they should care about health of Russian tourists? But Sochi, capital of Winter Olympics 2014 is just 20 miles away from Abkhazia. Is it threat to future Olympics?
Implications for human health
The H5N1 strain has demonstrated its capacity to directly infect humans on three occasions in the recent past. The H5N1 strain is capable of infecting a broad range of hosts, which may help explain recent media reports of infections and deaths in mammalian and avian species not normally considered susceptible to infection and severe disease. In humans, the disease caused by H5N1 infection differs from that usually caused by influenza viruses, where respiratory symptoms are dominant. H5N1 has a documented ability to replicate in a wide range of cell types, resulting in severe disseminated disease affecting multiple organs and causing high mortality. These clinical features were observed during the first recorded human outbreak of H5N1 infection in Hong Kong in 1997. These features are being seen again in the earliest clinical reports from Viet Nam and Thailand. For all these reasons, the present situation in Asia needs to be watched very carefully. Countries need to maintain a high level of vigilance, and must not relax their surveillance and detection efforts. Intense efforts to control the disease in poultry must continue in some countries and be initiated in others. Preparedness measures for dealing with an incipient pandemic situation, launched by WHO, are continuing and much progress is being made. WHO is providing medical supplies and supporting local health staff. In addition, a WHO mission comprising an epidemiologist and a water and sanitation engineer is currently assessing the situation and proposing additional control measures.
Only Abkhazia became not only breakaway province of Georgia, but breakaway province of entire world.