Pilot program shows poultry markets a new way to do business
A successful pilot program, focusing on an innovative approach to running poultry markets, could vastly reduce the risk of bird flu, according to a leading specialist.
Poultry markets have been identified as critical risk points for the spread of bird flu viruses, such as H5N1, H7N9 and other emerging infectious diseases, said John Edwards, senior technical coordinator with the Emergency Center for Transboundary Animal Diseases China office.
The office is under the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.
Edwards advocates adopting a public-private partnership biosecurity model to manage those markets, he told a seminar organized by the FAO and the Ministry of Agriculture in Guangzhou, Guangdong province, in July.
The model is comprehensive in nature and includes producers, veterinarians, local communities and public health agencies.
This approach, Edwards said, to control poultry diseases was introduced in Bangladesh, Egypt and Indonesia in 2008.
“It has achieved substantial progress in the prevention and control of avian influenza H5N1 and other emerging infectious diseases.’’
The pilot project in China was initiated in the Jiangcun Live Bird Wholesale Market in Guangzhou in April 2010 and it was completed in August 2012.
“The result has been quite satisfactory. No sample from our market has tested positive for the H7N9 virus,” said Jiang Weifeng, general manager of the Jiangfeng Industry Co.
The project team for the market suggested one-way traffic flow in the market with vehicle cleaning stations at both entry and exit gates.
The team also insisted on educating market participants on effective cleaning and disinfecting skills, and replacing bamboo bird crates with metal ones.
The FAO invested in a cleaning station for vehicles, a disinfection program and 200 metal bird crates.
Protective equipment was also supplied and a training program ensured that standards would be upheld.
However, there were modifications. One- way traffic was not adopted because, as the market manager said, it does not allow poultry purchasers the quick access needed to bargain.
And more steel bird crates are required, since more than 3,000 are used in the market.
The team insisted on the separation of slaughter areas from the live section.
Upkeep and maintaining standards are key to the success.
Vehicles and bird crates are cleaned every three days. The cleaning of a vehicle costs 40 yuan ($6.5) to 50 yuan, depending on the size of the vehicle, with 25 yuan coming from the vehicle owner and the rest paid by the market management, Jiang said.
The disinfectants used are provided free of charge by the local animal health inspection institute, he said.
Peng Cong, director of the Guangzhou Animal Health Inspection Institute, said; “It takes time and effort to change the habits of the stall owners.”
Stall owners balked at first at the cost of paying 250 yuan a month to clean their vehicles. But once they realized that the potential alternative was the closure of the market, they readily agreed, Jiang said.
Cai Xiufeng, a stall owner, said the cleaner market has made both herself and her clients feel safer and has helped boost business.