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Thursday, March 23, 2017

Amid Chinese outbreak: FAO, WHO say surveillance, laboratory testing, clean markets to contain changing H7N9 virus

International organisations are rallying round China in reinforcing control amid outbreak of avian influenza, reports NaijaAgroNet.

Experts also said that a resurgent outbreak of a new strain of avian influenza that could be lethal 
for humans underscores the need for robust and rapid detection and response systems at animal source.

NaijaAgroNet also reports that this could reduce the risk associated with virus spread and impacts on public health, according to Food and Agriculture Organization and the World Organisation for Animal Health.

Equally, NaijaAgroNet reports that human cases of the H7N9 virus, first detected in China four years ago, have suddenly increased since December 2016 and it is estimated, that as of early March 2017, there have been more reported human cases of influenza A (H7N9) than those caused by other types of avian influenza viruses (H5N1, H5N6, etc.) combined.

As during previous waves, most of the patients infected reported a history of visiting live bird markets or coming into contact with infected birds. Since 2013, China has invested heavily in surveillance of live bird markets and poultry farms. However the surveillance of this virus has proven particularly challenging as until recently it has shown no or few signs of disease in chickens.

"Considering the potential for mutation of avian influenza virus, constant surveillance by national Veterinary Services of the different strains circulating in animals in their country is essential to protect both animal and human health", explains  Matthew Stone, Deputy Director General of the OIE.

"To protect human health and people's livelihoods, it is essential to tackle the disease at its source in poultry: efforts need to target eliminating H7N9 from affected farms and markets," said Vincent Martin, FAO's Representative in China.

"Targeted surveillance to detect the disease and clean infected farms and live bird markets, intervening at critical points along the poultry value chain - from farm to table - is required. There should be incentives for everybody involved in poultry production and marketing to enforce disease control."

Isaac Oyimah/GEE
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