Given its geographic location, with MERS firmly entrenched to its south and west in Saudi Arabia, and avian flu outbreaks reported in both Iraq and Iran to its north, Kuwait has so far managed to avoid more than a glancing blow from either virus.
They've reported only 4 MERS cases to date, and while they saw multiple outbreaks of H5N1 in poultry back in 2007, they've not reported any human infections.
But as we saw just over a month ago, in FAO EMPRES: Risk Assessment For Spread Of H5N1 In The Middle East, Kuwait is listed as being at medium risk of seeing H5N1 return.
The preliminary assessment based on the available information and uncertainties associated indicate that the risk of introduction of H5N1 HPAI for each of the nine regional and neighbouring countries or territories varies and is as follows:
- High: Iran (Islamic Republic of), Israel, Jordan, the Syrian Arab Republic and Turkey
- Medium: Gaza Strip, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and The West Bank
- Low: Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia
- Negligible: Cyprus
H5N1 isn't the only avian flu that threatens Kuwait, as the H5N8 virus is also on the move in Russia and India, and H9N2 has become rife in Egypt since arriving there in 2011.
While only mentioning H9N2 specifically, Kuwait's PAAAFR announced an emergency plan to prevent the entry of bird flu into their country.
H9N2 - while indeed a concern for both human health and the poultry industry - is considerably less dangerous than H5N1 (or H5N8). Steps to prevent H9N2, however, would likely reduce the risks of H5N1 and H5N8, without having to invoke a far more worrisome scenario.
This from the Kuwait Times, via KUNA.
KUWAIT: The Public Authority for Agricultural Affairs and Fish Resources (PAAAFR) announced yesterday an emergency plan to prevent the entry of H9N2 bird flu to the country. The authority has prepared an emergency and precautionary plan based on the preventive methods accredited by World Organization for Animal Health (OIE), PAAAFR Director General, Faisal Al-Hasawi said.PAAAFR has been coordinating with all official bodies in the country such as the Ministry of Health, Municipality of Kuwait, Finance and Interior Ministries to form a joint committee with the authority to develop and implement the plan, he added. H9N2 bird flu appeared in one of the neighboring countries, and it’s the most dangerous types of flu spread between livestock and poultry, Hasawi said.This type of bird flu spreads very quickly which causes heavy economic losses, recalling at the same time the large losses suffered by livestock sector in the country in 2008. The joint efforts with the authority will prevent the infection between the livestock and then to the humans. —KUNA