Friday, February 21, 2014

UN Food and Agriculture Organisation says human patients infected with avian 'flu won't infect poultry

The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) says there is no evidence that human patients infected with H7N9 avian influenza can transmit the virus to animals. FAO referred to the first human case of H7N9 outside China, which was recently detected in Malaysia.
The patient, originally from Guangdong Province in China was visiting Malaysia as a tourist and has been hospitalized. Guangdong is one of the Chinese provinces most affected by the H7N9 virus.
"This case does not come as a surprise and should not be a cause for increased concern, but should remind the world to remain vigilant," said FAO Chief Veterinary Officer Juan Lubroth. "Humans that become ill with H7N9 constitute no threat to poultry," Lubroth said.
"We have no evidence that affected people could transmit the virus to other species, including birds. The highest risk of virus introduction is uncontrolled live poultry trade between affected and unaffected areas."
People become infected following close contact with infected live poultry, mostly in live bird markets or when slaughtering birds at home.
WHO risk assessments show that should infected people from affected areas travel internationally, community spread is unlikely since the virus does not have the ability to transmit easily among humans.
Lubroth observed that "Such 'imported' human cases, like the one reported in Malaysia last week, have been found in the past in previously unaffected areas of China, like Guizhou, Taiwan Province of China and Hong Kong SAR, and we will likely continue to see this in the not too distant future again. To date the virus has not been found in poultry populations outside affected areas in China."
Birds that have contracted H7N9 do not show clinical signs, which renders early detection of the virus in poultry populations more difficult.
FAO is focusing on high risk countries, facilitating risk assessment, contingency planning, expansion of diagnostic capabilities and risk-based surveillance.

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