From Ausvet plan to implementation

This is the 1st presentation of a series of documents, presented during the conference on the application of the Anoxia method for euthanizing animals. The conference is held in Canberra (Australia) on February 21, 2014. The conference is organized for representatives of animal welfare organizations, Australian animal health authorities and the industry and gives an overview of some important practical issues related to Emergency Response, based on my experiences during the outbreak of H7N7 in Holland.

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Dossier H7N9: The Australian response

Australia’s federal Department of Health has advised general practitioners to be on the lookout for potential cases of the H7N9 strain of influenza A, or bird flu, following a spate of deaths in China.

Chinese authorities at the Centre for Health Protection are taking the threat very seriously: control points have been set up to detect infected people with thermal imaging and all suspected cases will be referred to hospital for assessment.

The threat has been particularly serious over the past week, as hundreds of millions of Chinese returned to their home villages to celebrate the Lunar New Year holiday.

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In ovo sex determination

In Poultry News edition 2/2013, Lohmann, as one of the world largest poultry producers, explains their vision on a great ethical problem: Routine culling of day-old male chicks in the hatchery.

This overview describes the quest finding alternative solutions that is truly a big challenge for breeding companies, science and hatcheries.

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Bird flu viruses could re-emerge in upcoming flu season

International experts recommend vigilance and promote targeted surveillance, market restructuring to fight H7N9, H5N1 and other threats. 16 September 2013, Rome – FAO has issued a new warning to the international community that the H7N9 and H5N1 avian influenza viruses continue to pose serious threats to human and animal health, especially in view of the upcoming flu season.

“The world is more prepared than ever before to respond to bird flu viruses in light of a decade of work on H5N1 and the recent response to H7N9,” said FAO Chief Veterinary Officer Juan Lubroth at a joint meeting with United States Agency for International Development (USAID), the World Health Organization (WHO) and the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE).

Heads of FAO Reference Centres, in Australia, the People’s Republic of China, Italy and the United States of America were also in attendance, along with representatives from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the United States Department of Agriculture.

“However, constant vigilance is required,” Lubroth said. “Bird flu viruses continue to circulate in poultry. Efforts must continue and be strengthened, not only in affected countries, but also in neighbouring states and areas with strong trade linkages. This is especially true for H7N9 since it causes no clinical signs in birds and is therefore very difficult to detect in poultry.”

Along these lines, FAO has committed $2 million of emergency funding supplemented by over $5 million from USAID to kick-start H7N9 response efforts. USAID support has enabled FAO to help countries at risk dramatically improve surveillance capacities.

“Several at-risk countries previously unable to pick up the virus can now accurately detect H7N9,” explained Lubroth. “Identifying the virus with consistency is critical to targeting control efforts and reducing spread.”

Dennis Carroll, Director of USAID’s Emerging Threats Program, added, “The early detection and excellent characterization of the H7N9 virus by Chinese experts has created an unprecedented opportunity to mount a coordinated effort to stop the further spread of the virus – and thwart a possible global event.

Significant progress over the past decade in forging national and international partnerships and validating interventions for control of avian influenza can be immediately adapted to addressing the threat posed by the H7N9 virus.”

Surveillance is key

FAO and USAID stress that more work is required. In the short term this includes continued, targeted surveillance and trace back throughout the production and marketing system, contingency planning and compensation scheme development.

“The emergence of the H7N9 virus serves as yet another reminder that new disease threats are not the exception, but a predictable consequence of events occurring at the human-animal interface,” said Carroll.

“It is important we continue to monitor future threats while at the same time improving the practices and behaviours associated with livestock production and marketing that can make it easier for diseases to emerge and affect animals and people,” he said.

“Surveillance is key, and with support from key partners like USAID, we’re making progress,” said Lubroth. “In addition to helping countries detect the virus, we need to make sure authorities can trace back the virus to its points of origin and better understand how the virus is circulating so as to design effective control actions. Where appropriate we need to help governments put together contingency plans for the possible detection of the virus and compensation schemes for assisting those affected by control efforts.”

In the longer-term fight against H7N9 and other viruses, FAO and USAID are urging countries to invest in improving the way they market and sell poultry.

“We need keep our eyes on the bigger picture of promoting healthy food systems, especially when it comes to animal production and marketing,” said Lubroth. “Restructuring can create healthier, safer markets by developing facilities that employ proper food safety and hygiene measures. Since animals, and therefore viruses, are inevitably gathered at markets, keeping these markets clean and safe reduces the chances for viruses and other pathogens to spread. Healthy markets mean healthy birds, and that means improved public health, better food security and more sustainable livelihoods.”

FAO continues its call for funds to bolster the global H7N9 response. FAO is urging countries to make key investments in improving markets and promoting healthy food systems to fight viruses affecting animals and humans as part of overarching efforts to ensure the animal sector realizes its potential in the promotion of healthy and productive lives.

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Cooperative crisis management and avian influenza

Cooperative crisis management and avian influenza, published in 2006, on Risk Assessment Guide for International Contagious Disease Prevention and Risk Mitigation is one of the most comprehensive reports produced by Colonel Donald F. Thompson and Captain Renata P. Louie of the Center for Technology and National Security Policy, National Defense University, Washington DC.

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Australia: Control & Eradication Highly Pathogenic Avian influenza (H7N7) (Maitland – NSW)

This policy document outlines how Highly Pathogenic Avian influenza (HPAI) H7N7 will be eradicated in the 2012 outbreak at Australia, Maitland NSW. The policy aims to achieve eradication in the shortest possible time, while limiting the risk of human infection and minimising negative impacts on industry and the community.

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Emerging infectious diseases in China: the One Health approach

This report on the UN China One Health event (June 2011) is focusing on diseases at the human-animal-interface. ‘One Health’ and ‘Ecohealth’ are ways of thinking about, approaching and investigating diseases that go beyond the traditional pathogen-centric approach.

By examining the complex issues that result in disease emergence and transmission and this information can be used to implement better disease control and preventive measures.

One of the conclusions is that the rapid development in Asia means that the complex effects of changes to ecosystems not always have been discussed or examined in a way that takes account of the positive and negative effects of development.

For highly pathogenic avian influenza it has been important to understand how the disease emerged and spread so that appropriate measures could be implemented.

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H7N9 Carries Genes from Rare H9N2, H7N3, H4N9, H11N9 Bird Flu Viruses

According to recent studies of H7N9 collected from live poultry markets, these viruses are reassortants in which the six internal genes were derived from avian H9N2 viruses. However, the origins of their hemagglutinin (HA) and neuraminidase (NA) genes have been unclear.

The team collected 970 samples (drinking water, feces, contaminated soil, and cloacal and tracheal swabs) from live poultry markets and poultry farms located in China. 20 samples were positive for the presence of H7N9 influenza viruses. All of the positive samples originated from live poultry markets in Shanghai. Ten of them were isolated from chickens, three from pigeons, and seven were from environmental samples.

The scientists sequenced the complete genome of three H7N9 isolates – from a chicken, pigeon, and environmental sample. Genetic analysis of these isolates revealed high homology across all eight gene segments. Phylogenetic analysis of these novel H7N9 influenza virus isolates showed that that the six internal genes were derived from avian H9N2 viruses.

According to the GenBank database, the HA genes of the novel isolated viruses were most similar to those from duck H7N3 influenza viruses, sharing 95.2-95.8 per cent homology at the nucleotide level. The NA gene of the virus isolates shared highest homology (97.3-97.9 per cent) with NA genes from H4N9, H11N9 influenza viruses isolated from ducks, and environmental samples from duck farms.

“It is clear that the novel H7N9 viruses are the product of gene reassortment, with the internal genes from one donor, and HA and NA genes from one or several other donors.”

HA receptor-binding specificity is a major molecular determinant for the host range of influenza viruses. Amino acids at positions 226 and 228 of HA are critical for specificity of receptor-binding in influenza viruses. Within the HA protein of novel H7N9 viruses, there was a leucine residue at position 226, which is characteristic of the HA gene in human influenza viruses.

“This finding implies that H7N9 viruses have partially acquired human receptor-binding specificity. All of the H7N9 human isolates examined contained a lysine residue at position 627 in the PB2 protein. It is well known that this lysine residue contributes to the replication and transmission of avian influenza viruses in mammalian hosts. It is likely that the acquisition of this lysine in H7N9 viruses during their replication in human hosts has significantly contributed to their virulence and lethality in humans.”
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H7N9 – Don’t buy weapons in wartime

Once the source of the H7N9 infection is found, how should the Chinese authorities you organize the response? Regarding that it is more than likely that animal-to-human contact could cause a human pandemic, all existing response methods are doomed to fail.

One of the remaining options is the novel Anoxia method, based on the absence of oxygen under atmospheric conditions. When the Chinese authorities able to apply this technique throughout all provinces, using well-equipped and trained firefighters, they could be able to stop the pandemic before it starts. The Anoxia method is therefore the weapon of choice.

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The UK Foot and Mouth Epidemic of 2001: Lessons not learned

In this paper represents a short narrative history of the Foot & Mouth Disease outbreak (FMD) in the UK, 2001. Prof. David Campbell and Prof. Robert Lee seek to demonstrate that there are obvious messages arising out of a review of the history of the outbreak. In particular this paper suggests that there are structural confusions inherent in the framework of disease control and response, whereby policies adopted to serve one outcome have precisely the opposite consequence.

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