Researchers at the University of East Anglia (UEA) have identified a rapid response which could help halt infectious diseases such as bird flu, swine flu and SARS before they take hold.
Focusing on the avian flu virus strain H5N1, research published today in the journal PLOS ONE identifies key stages in the poultry trade chain which lead to its transmission to other birds, animals and humans. High risk times for the disease to spread include during transportation, slaughter, preparation and consumption.
The UEA research team adopted a system widely used in the food production industry, known as Hazard Analysis of Critical Control Points (HACCP), and investigated whether it could be used as a rapid response to emerging outbreaks.
They investigated Vietnam’s poultry trade system and identified four key stages within the poultry trade chain which pose high risks for the transmission of HPAI viruses in human and poultry populations:
- Contact within poultry flocks which act as viral ‘mixing pots’. Examples include at markets which act as huge reservoirs for the virus, at bird vaccination centres, and at cock fighting contests.
- Transportation and sale of poultry and eggs
- Purchase and slaughter of poultry from markets.
- Preparation of poultry for consumption – particularly in unhygienic conditions and when meat is raw or undercooked.
Preventative measures outlined in the report include isolating and quarantining flocks, using protective equipment such as masks, gloves and sterile utensils when slaughtering and preparing carcases for consumption, and using social media to promote good hygiene standards.
The research was led by Dr Diana Bell and Dr Kelly Edmunds from UEA’s school of Biological Sciences.
Dr Edmunds stated: “We showed that adopting the Hazard Analysis of Critical Control Points (HACCP) system, which is already used in the food production industry, could work very effectively as a precursor to more time-consuming quantitative data collection and biomedical testing.”
‘Hazard Analysis of Critical Control Points Assessment as a Tool to Respond to Emerging Infectious Disease Outbreaks’ by Kelly L. Edmunds, Paul R. Hunter, Roger Few and Diana J.Bell (all UEA), is published in the journal PLOS ONE on August 14, 2013.
Source: University of East Anglia