Apr 14, 2017
Xinhua the official news agency of the Government of China reports increases in incident cases of H7N9 avian influenza in humans. A total ban on live poultry trading in the city of Changshu the capital of Jiangsu Province was imposed on March 17th but only continued for five days. During March, the virus was isolated from a flock with 30,000 birds, although the subsequent eradication campaign extended to 170,000 birds, presumably for egg production.
The presence of endemic H7N9 Avian Influenza in poultry flocks in numerous provinces in China represents an ongoing risk to consumers purchasing live chickens in wet markets where the virus can be readily acquired by inhalation of aerosols. Recent mutations reported in H7N9 virus to become infectious to poultry flocks producing clinical signs and mortality represents a challenge for authorities. Responses may include intensive eradication programs and development of vaccines to suppress infection and hence viral shedding.
It is without question that wet markets serving as the common link of infection between live poultry and consumers should be closed for extended periods coupled with programs of surveillance. Following the procedures in Hong Kong only birds from tested flocks should be transported to live markets for sale. These measures would involve a radical change in the market distribution system but represent the only practical means of limiting H7N9 infection in consumers.