Warning over live bird market

The live bird market is a “reservoir of infection” for Bird Flu, according to new research by scientists writing in the journal of the Royal Society.

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 said rest days, during which such markets are emptied and disinfected, may reduce transmission.

The results are published today (Wednesday) 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.

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