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:
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:
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.
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:
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:
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.