News Roundup: Avian influenza, FAO launches Asian initiative

Updated: Jul 1, 2020

Avian influenza in China

Human cases of avian influenza have increased since December 2016 – specifically the H7N9 virus, influenza A – having first been detected in China four years ago. Despite heavy investment in the surveillance of bird markets and poultry farms, most patients reported previous contact with live birds.

“Targeted surveillance to detect the disease and clean infected farms and live bird markets, intervening at critical points along the poultry value chain – from farm to table – is required. There should be incentives for everybody involved in poultry production and marketing to enforce disease control.” – Vincent Martin, FAO’s representative in China.

FAO and OIE have made clear the importance of making available all information attained through surveillance of poultry, both for study of the existing disease and analysis of its potential to spread through poultry trains or wild bird movement.

On a related note: NTF Chairman Carl Wittenberg proposed an animal disease defence plan in the United States to limit the impact of foreign diseases on American food producers.

Animal antibiotics effect soil ecosystem

A Virginia Tech research team have found that manure from cattle treated with antibiotics can drastically change the bacterial and fungal make-up of soil. The team analysed soil from 11 dairy farms in the United States with results showing that soil near manure piles showed two-hundred times the amount of antibiotic resistant genes present in untampered soil, greatly lessening the soil fertility.

ATLASS: AMR surveillance preparation launches in Indonesia

The Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) and Chulalongkorn University have this week launched their ATLASS initiative in Indonesia, supplementing the country’s execution of the new national antimicrobial surveillance system. With support from the Directorate General of Livestock and Animal Health Services, they visited laboratories in early March to access their preparedness for the implementation of AMR surveillance.

FAO’s project is focused on addressing antimicrobial usage in Asia’s livestock, aquaculture and plant production, and is concentrating efforts on strengthening the laboratory capacities of five countries in Southeast Asia: Indonesia, Thailand, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam.

Dr. Taradon Luangtongkun, head of the team from Chulalongkorn University is adamant that harmonisation is the key to effective data collection and study, “we want to help set a common ‘language’ for all in AMR surveillance through harmonised protocols and standards.”

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