Poultry Market Closures Effective In Preventing Human Cases Of Bird Flu, Study Shows

“Shutting down live poultry markets is extremely effective in preventing human cases of avian flu and should be considered if the disease reappears this winter, researchers in China reported” in a study published in The Lancet on Thursday, the New York Times reports (McNeil, 10/30). “[R]esearchers from Hong Kong and China said that while closing markets during the height of the first outbreak of H7N9 in April may have been costly, it reduced human infections dramatically and should be done again if cases rise as feared,” Reuters writes. “The findings — of a more than 97 percent reduction in the daily number of human cases of the new H7N9 strain after the markets were closed compared with before — should give policymakers confidence that the economic costs of shutting markets is balanced by significant health gains,” the news agency notes (Kelland, 10/31).

“But experts, including the authors, warned that shutting such markets permanently would be impractical because consumers in many countries demand live birds, and small farmers cannot afford refrigerated slaughterhouses and trucks,” the New York Times writes, adding, “Even temporary shutdowns create economic problems but should be considered, they said” (10/30). “Although closing live poultry markets in some circumstances can reduce human exposure to the H7N9 virus, this measure alone is unlikely to eliminate the threat of bird-to-human transmission, Guillaume Fournie and Dirk Pfeiffer of the Royal Veterinary College in London wrote in an accompanying journal editorial,” HealthDay News notes (Preidt, 10/30).