Peru is the best-prepared country in South America for a possible outbreak of bird flu, the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) said on Wednesday.
The organization also warned that an outbreak of bird flu would be inevitable and "only a matter of time".
"Swift implementation of preventative measures will save many lives," said Ciro Ugarte, of the Washington-based PAHO disaster prevention unit. While other nations are engaged in sector-by-sector preparations, Peru has tried to integrate the anti-bird-flu measures across government departments.
Ugarte said that the effects of bird flu would be felt by the economy, transport and farming, and that the World Health Organization (WHO) had urged nations to build up their cross-department planning for the possible pandemic, noting that such preparation would also help nations to fight the weather phenomenon El Nino, floods, dengue fever or any natural disaster.
Also on Wednesday, Juan Zegarra of Peru´s national avian health program Pronasa said that his agency had been preparing and watching out for bird flu for at least five years, even though the disease had yet to reach Peru.
According to Zegarra, Pronasa has been watching farm birds for possible symptoms and taking regular laboratory samples, and carried out avian flu simulation drills in cities of Libertad, Ica, Arequipa, Tacna and the capital Lima to reinforce the collaboration and familiarize contingency measures.
According to data from the WHO, bird flu has killed 151 people worldwide. Indonesia is the worst hit with 55 deaths, followed by Vietnam with 42. The pandemic disease has been detected in domestic birds in Asia and Africa, and in wild birds in Europe. Nocases have been reported in American countries.