Live Bird Markets 'Reservoir of Infection' for Bird Flu

GLOBAL - Since December 2003 outbreaks of H5N1 Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPA1) affecting domestic poultry have been reported in 50 countries across the world. Massive economic losses and the pandemic threat make H5N1 HPAI one of the greatest current public health concerns.
calendar icon 1 December 2010
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Guillaume Fournié and Dr Javier Guitian from the Royal Veterinary College - working with colleagues from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and Imperial College - have developed a model to understand how live bird markets act as a "hub" of infection for domestic poultry and if rest days, during which such markets are emptied and disinfected, may reduce transmission.

The results are published today (1 December 2010) in Interface - the Journal of The Royal Society. PhD student Guillaume Fournié, who led the research, said: "Live bird markets can be a reservoir of infection for domestic poultry and may therefore be responsible for sustaining H5N1 HPAI virus circulation.

"Compared to interventions applied in farms - such as stamping out and vaccination - our model shows that frequent rest days are an effective means with which to reduce H5N1 HPAI infection rates. Furthermore, our model predicts that full market closure - as has been implemented in some countries such as Egypt and Vietnam - would only be slightly more effective than rest days to reduce transmission of the disease."

The models used in the study are based on the live bird market chain in Hong Kong and the analysis restricted to chickens. Fournié, who qualified to be a vet in Alfort in his native France, was awarded fully-funded studentships (tuition fees and a living allowance) in 2007 by The Bloomsbury Colleges – a consortium of six colleges of the University of London: Birkbeck, IoE, LSHTM, RVC, School of Oriental and African Studies, and The School of Pharmacy - to conduct the research.

Further Reading

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