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Weekly Overview: H7N9 Bird Flu Impacts Poultry Markets in China and Viet Nam

02 May 2013

ANALYSIS - In China, it appears that live markets are a key source of the avian influenza A(H7N9) virus although an official report says the virus has not been found on any poultry farms. Demand for poultry meat and eggs products in Viet Nam has fallen on fears that the virus has already entered the country in poultry. Cases of human disease with H5N1 rumble on several countries.

Starting with avian influenza A(H7N9), the most recent update from the World Health Organization (WHO), dated 29 April, refers to a total of 126 confirmed human cases of the virus, of whom, 24 have died.

An expert mission from the OIE has found that live bird markets play a key role in poultry and human infections with influenza A(H7N9).

Some media report that the virus has been found at poultry farms across China. ThePoultrySite has been unable to find a reliable first-hand source for that information so far. An official source in China reported on 27 April that none of the 68,000 samples collected from poultry farms had tested positive for the H7N9 strain of avian influenza.

Despite well-founded assurances that there is no risk from properly cooked poultry products, there are signs that sales of poultry meat and eggs are falling in China as a result of market closures and the population's fears of infection. The fears have spread to Viet Nam, where poultry sales are also falling.

Influenza A(H5N1) continues to rumble on in some countries. Six new confirmed human cases have been reported to WHO from Bangladesh (one), Cambodia (one), Egypt (two) and Viet Nam (two). Since the beginning of 2013, Cambodia has reported 10 human cases with influenza A(H5N1) virus infection including eight fatal cases.

From Mexico, unconfirmed reports indicate that the situation with H7N3 bird flu in poultry may be less under control than official sources suggest.

Turning to other news, egg farmers in the US appear to be divided over whether to support or oppose the inclusion in the Farm Bill of the 'Egg Bill', which will impact the future of battery cages. While United Egg Producers has expressed its support, Egg Farmers of America is opposing the Bill.

Turkey producers in the US have hit back following the publication of a report, which found - among other issues - that bacteria on turkey raised without antibiotics had significantly less antibiotic resistance than bacteria on conventional turkey and that 90 per cent of samples of ground turkey had one or more of the five foodborne bacteria tested.

Finally, animal advocates will celebrate International Respect for Chickens Day on Saturday (4 May). May is International Respect for Chickens Month.

Jackie Linden

Jackie Linden

Top image via Shutterstock

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