Friday, 23 November 2012

Avian flu risk spikes at Chinese New Year due to busy poultry markets

Poultry markets promote spread of avian flu during the Spring Festival

by Michael Woodhead
The live poultry trade in Southern China has been linked to increased transmission of life-threatening avian H5N1 inlfuenza infection around the time of Chinese New Year Festivities.
According to researchers from the UN Food and Agriculture Organization H5N1 Programme in Beijing, sporadic avian flu infections in poultry and humans are still occurring in China. The researchers therefore investigated seasonal patterns in links between the movement of live poultry originating from southern China and HPAIV H5N1 infection in four wholesale live bird markets (LBMs) in Hunan and Guangxi provinces of South China. They found that seasonal differences in the live poultry trade in Southern China around the Chinese New Year festivities were associated with higher HPAIV H5N1 infection risk in humans and poultry.
The researchers found that the geographical extent of poultry trade was greater during February compared to other months surveyed "indicating that the marketing chain of poultry products originating in south China can reach wider geographical coverage during this month. These widespread poultry trading patterns at Chinese New year "are likely to pose considerable challenges for the containment of HPAIV H5N1, they say.
"Taken together, these results highlight the role of live bird markets in South China in facilitating the seasonal movement of live poultry between southern and northern provinces of China, probably due to the high demand during and shortly after the Chinese New Year festivities."
Read more: PLOS One

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