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H7N9 Surveillance and control in animals


Since infected poultry show little to no clinical signs, H7N9 surveillance relies on targeted sampling. Only laboratory tests can confirm infection. Virological tests help identify current infection with the H7N9 virus, while serological tests determine whether animals have been exposed to an H7 virus in the past. Follow-up investigations on positive serology results are necessary to identify if exposure was to H7N9 or a different H7 virus.

In China


Chinese authorities immediately conducted emergency active surveillance in animals throughout the territory in April 2013. Routine active surveillance was subsequently launched in August 2013. The latest and current surveillance plan was announced in June 2014; provinces are now classified as key surveillance provinces and general surveillance provinces, according to demonstrated presence or absence of the H7N9 virus.


Name of surveillance plan Starting month Publication of results

Emergency active surveillance (cn)

April 2013
(ended May 2013)

surveillance data analysis (en)

Routine active surveillance (cn)

August 2013  

Epidemiological surveillance (cn)

March 2014

Poultry H7N9 influenza elimination plan (cn)

June 2014

monthly reports (cn)
official veterinary bulletin (cn)

National Prevention and Control Program for Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (2016-2020) (cn)

August 2016



Diagnostic tests being used:


  • virological tests for virus detection: oropharyngeal and cloacal swab samples are tested using RT-PCR or fluorescence RT-PCR and positive results are confirmed by the National Avian Influenza Laboratory;
  • serological tests to detect antibodies against H5 and H7: serum samples are tested by hemagglutination inhibition (HI) test.


In neighbouring countries


Countries adjacent to China have intensified their border controls. Several countries in the region have announced a temporary import ban on live birds from China. Starting from June 2013, FAO launched four emergency Technical Cooperation Programme (TCP) projects – for South-East Asia, South Asia, Africa and the global level – in addition to implementing a USAID-funded project to support high-risk countries in Asia. FAO’s goal is to assist countries in their efforts to reduce the risk of H7N9 introduction by scaling up surveillance efforts and increasing capacities for early detection and emergency preparedness. To date, the H7N9 virus has not been identified in poultry populations outside China.