PDF _ RL33219 - U.S. and International Responses to the Global Spread of Avian Flu: Issues for Congress
1-May-2006; Tiaji Salaam-Blyther; 37 p.

Update: July 28, 2006

Previous Reports:

Abstract: There are many strains of avian influenza virus infecting poultry. Influenza A/H5N1 is a strain of influenza currently spreading throughout the world. Although it is a bird flu, it has infected a relatively small number of people and killed more than half of those infected. Some scientists are concerned that H5N1 may cause the next influenza pandemic. Since 1997, when the first human contracted H5N1 in Hong Kong, the virus has resurfaced and spread to nearly 50 countries in Asia, Europe, the Middle East, and Africa — infecting more than 200 people. In February 2006, the virus spread from Asia and central Europe to western Europe. By March 2006, health experts had confirmed new bird flu cases among more than 20 countries across Europe, Asia, and Africa. Most of the countries were experiencing their first H5N1 cases. The first human H5N1 fatalities outside of Asia occurred in 2006 when Turkey and Iraq announced their first human deaths related to H5N1 infection in January and February, followed by Azerbaijan and Egypt in March.

P.L.109-13, FY2005 emergency supplemental appropriations directed $25 million to USAID for global avian flu efforts. The act also permitted the Secretary of State to transfer up to $656 million for U.S. avian flu initiatives. Ultimately, $6.3 million was transferred to USAID for those purposes, which enabled the United States to use $31.3 million of FY2005 emergency appropriations on global avian flu activities. Emergency funds were directed to global avian flu efforts in FY2006 Defense Department appropriations, which provided $3.8 billion for all U.S. avian flu initiatives. Although Congress did not specify a total amount that should be spent on all global initiatives, the U.S. State Department, responsible for coordinating the international response to avian flu, estimates that some $280 million of the $3.8 billion is being directed to global avian flu initiatives. U.S. agencies and departments have also used FY2005 and FY2006 non-emergency appropriations to fund global avian flu and pandemic preparedness efforts. The Senate version of H.R. 4939, FY2006 Emergency Supplemental Appropriations, provides $3.2 billion to avian flu efforts. The House version does not include similar language. Relevant FY2007 U.S. department and agency justifications include some $205 million for global H5N1 initiatives. As in previous fiscal years, additional resources might be directed to global avian flu efforts through complementary programs not categorized as avian flu, such as infectious disease programs and international influenza research.

This report provides an up-to-date account of global H5N1-related human infections and deaths, outlines U.S. government global avian flu programs, and presents some foreign policy issues for Congress. This report will be updated. For information on U.S. domestic preparedness efforts, agricultural issues, and anti-avian flu efforts of overseas governments, please see CRS Report RL33145, Pandemic Influenza: Domestic Preparedness Efforts, by Sarah A. Lister; CRS Report RS21747, Avian Influenza: Agricultural Issues, by Jim Monke; and CRS Report RL33349, International Efforts to Control the Spread of the Avian Influenza (H5N1) Virus: Affected Countries’ Responses, coordinated by Emma Chanlett-Avery.

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Topics: International, Risk & Reform, General

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