AG index page FAO homepage
Print this page | Close

H7N9 FAO recommendations


Overall guidance

 

New zoonotic influenza A viruses like H7N9 will continue to emerge at the human-animal interface. This is a characteristic of influenza A viruses. For this reason FAO recommends member countries maintain:

 

  • a well-resourced veterinary system trained in the prevention, detection and control of animal diseases and able to respond rapidly in the case of avian influenza incursions or outbreaks;
  • facilities for quarantine and inspection of live animals and animal products to stop disease before it enters the country; and
  • well-prepared and specific diagnostic teams able to implement field investigations and perform laboratory tests to inform decision-makers of the problem and trigger the appropriate response.

 

International standards

 

FAO advises countries to adhere to international standards to mitigate any risk of introduction of animal diseases, including avian influenza A(H7N9).

 

Surveillance, testing and reporting

 

FAO recommends routine, risk-based for the detection of avian influenza viruses. Any sample found positive for influenza A should be further investigated for H7N9. Positive results should be reported to the authorities.

Since H7N9 is a low pathogenic avian influenza (LPAI) virus, it causes little to no disease in poultry. For countries addressing H7N9 in poultry, FAO recommends:

 

  • targeted surveillance in farms and live bird markets for subtle signs of decreased production parameters (e.g. decreased egg production) and virus detection;
  • serologic analysis to determine if animals have been exposed to influenza viruses in the past to assess virus spread;
  • strengthened biosecurity (i.e. segregation, cleaning and disinfection) at the farm and live bird market level; and
  • continued monitoring of the wild bird situation.

FAO surveillance guidelines are under preparation and will soon be made available.

Biosecurity guidance for highly pathogenic avian influenza applies to H7N9. For more information download the FAO biosecurity paper.

 

Hygiene

 

In the case of H7N9 and many other pathogens, the greatest risk of transmission to humans is direct contact with an infected animal. To reduce exposure to H7N9 and other pathogens, FAO recommends good hygiene practices, including:

 

  • a clean and well-ventilated environment;
  • reducing contact with dust, faeces, and blood (e.g. wearing gloves); and
  • frequent cleaning of the work area (e.g. removal of carcasses, offal, blood and dirt).

Live bird markets should be cleaned and disinfected after each work day. A regular period of one day of rest for all workers and facilities should be enforced.

Unnecessary proximity between the public and live birds (including slaughtering) should be avoided.

 

Food preparation and consumption

 

Well-cooked meat is safe for consumption, because influenza viruses are inactivated by normal cooking temperatures (i.e. reaching at least 70º C in all parts).

Good food preparation practices prevent the contamination and cross contamination of food during storage, preparation and handing. Such practices include:

 

  • hand washing before and after handling food and between handling raw and cooked or ready-to-eat food.
  • keeping raw meat separate from cooked or ready-to-eat foods to avoid contamination.
  • avoiding using the same utensils to prepare raw meats and other foods (e.g. chopping boards and other surfaces, knives, and plates, for instance)
  • washing and disinfecting all surfaces and utensils that have been in contact with raw meat.

Diseased animals and animals that have died should not be processed nor eaten. Regardless of whether or not a dead animal is infected with influenza, it may contain another disease or toxins that are not destroyed by cooking.

Dead or sick animals should not be fed to other animals as this can cause infection of the healthy animals.