FAO AGA e-newsletter #83
20 January 2014, Rome- Human infections with the influenza A(H7N9) virus are on the rise again in China and the upcoming Chinese New Year festivities provide opportunity for further spread and human exposure, FAO warned today.
Millions of people and poultry are expected to be on the move and many households will slaughter poultry at home to celebrate the New Year. FAO called upon neighboring countries to remain vigilant in the face of A(H7N9) and other avian influenza viruses, such as highly pathogenic avian influenza H5N1.
The number of human infections with H7N9 has considerably increased since late December in East and Southeast China, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). The increase in cases was expected, as influenza viruses traditionally show increased activity during the winter months. So far, no other country has reported influenza A(H7N9) in humans, animals or in the market place.
There is strong evidence that people become infected following close contact with infected live poultry, mostly in live bird markets or when slaughtering birds at home. According to WHO, no sustained human-to-human transmission has occurred so far. Genetic analysis by FAO reference centers has revealed that the virus has not changed significantly since its emergence last year.
Focus on root causes and prevention needed
FAO AGA e-newsletter #81, 20 December 2013
Population growth, agricultural expansion, and the rise of globe-spanning food supply chains have dramatically altered how diseases emerge, jump species boundaries, and spread, according to an FAO report released today. A new, more holistic approach to managing disease threats at the animal-human-environment interface is needed, it argues.
Seventy percent of the new diseases that have emerged in humans over recent decades are of animal origin and, in part, directly related to the human quest for more animal-sourced food, according to the report, World Livestock 2013: Changing Disease Landscapes.
The ongoing expansion of agricultural lands into wild areas, coupled with a worldwide boom in livestock production, means that "livestock and wildlife are more in contact with each other, and we ourselves are more in contact with animals than ever before," said Ren Wang, FAO Assistant Director-General for Agriculture and Consumer Protection.
20 December, 2013, Rome – Research on vaccination against Avian Influenza has several needs, including the evaluation of the potential benefits of vaccination at hatchery level for the prevention and control of Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI). The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) conducted a facilitated discussion in Beijing on 3 December 2013 on existing findings regarding the assessment of the added value of hatchery vaccination. Participants included virologists, field experts involved in the control of HPAI, economic experts and scientists from the laboratory division, along with experts from FAO headquarters, the Asia and the Pacific regional office of Emergency Centre for Transboundary Animal Diseases (ECTAD) and the ECTAD office in China.
Unlike classical inactivated vaccines, hatchery vaccines can be mechanically applied to day-old chicks. This approach has already been applied for a few other poultry diseases. The advantages of hatchery vaccination are that: (i) poultry is more easily vaccinated at hatchery than farm level allowing to reach close to 100 percent vaccination in a flock; (ii) it limits the potential spread of the disease because it avoids the presence of vaccinators on farms; (iii) it eliminates the stress of traditional vaccination methods when people handle adult birds; (iv) there is the potential for an earlier onset of immunity in the birds; (v) there may be no need for a booster vaccination in broilers, and only one booster instead of four in layers, although more trials are needed to confirm this; and (vi) a high level of overall coverage in poultry population is more easily reachable.
20 December, 2013, Rome – OFFLU, the joint network of expertise on animal influenza between the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE), organized a technical meeting on vaccination against Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) from 4 to 6 December 2013 in Beijing, China. A similar meeting took place in Verona, Italy in 2007, the recommendations from which are still mostly valid today. However, many of the countries participating in the Beijing meeting, in particular China, Egypt, Vietnam, Indonesia and Mexico, have since gained large amounts of experience in the field of vaccination against HPAI. Government representatives from those countries and participants from FAO and OIE as well as the International Egg Commission (IEC), the International Federation for Animal Health (IFAH) and the World Health Organization (WHO) came together to share and discuss the experience and progress made at national and regional levels in vaccination against HPAI. The members of the OFFLU Technical Activity on vaccination acted as the scientific and organizing committee for this meeting.
The overall aim of the meeting was to review existing recommendations and to build on these based on countries’ experience and lessons learned. Technical experts were invited to present on recent advances achieved in the vaccination field and to review the technical, social, economic, and political aspects of vaccination against HPAI. Several endemic countries have been implementing mass-scale vaccination of poultry which is a huge financial burden in the long-run and have subsequently moved to targeted vaccination. South Asian countries that face a high prevalence of HPAI H5N1 are considering the potential authorization of vaccine use. The use of protective and updated vaccines that match with circulating influenza virus strains is key in controlling and preventing the spread of avian influenza (AI). However there are many challenges to ensuring that protective vaccines remain constantly available on national markets. Findings from field trials regarding the use of vector recombinant vaccines that can be delivered to day-old chicks in hatcheries suggest these vaccines may have a role to play in vaccination of poultry against influenza.
20 December, 2013, Rome – China's exponential economic growth over the last decade has been accompanied by a sharp increase in consumption of animal products. Today, China is the world's largest livestock producer and consumer. The intensification of livestock production has run in parallel with increased urbanisation, a growing human population, increasing international trade of animals and animal products and the expansion of agricultural areas at the expense of wild habitats.
These economic, social and demographic shifts affect livestock production and increase the potential for new pathogens to emerge, grow and spread from animals to humans on a global scale. These diseases can spread over long distances and have an enormous impact on trade and livelihoods. Therefore, the effective prevention, control and eradication of these infectious transboundary animal diseases (TADs) is crucial for safeguarding and securing national and international food supplies and human health. This will be most efficiently done through coordination of international research on animal health.
The recently established LinkTADs research consortium is a 1 million Euro initiative funded under the European Commission's Seventh Framework Programme (FP7), which aims to coordinate research on animal disease control (i.e. epidemiology and laboratory diagnostics) between partners in the European Union (EU) and China. By fostering networking between scientific institutions, LinkTADs will establish systematic linkages between on-going animal health research, training programmes and innovation projects in the EU and China.Read more