Researchers at the University of East Anglia adopted the Hazard Analysis of Critical Control Points (HACCP) system to study Vietnam’s poultry chain and identify the stages that posed the highest risk for the spread of highly pathogenic avian influenza H1N5 to other animals, birds and humans.
They identified four key risk stages: contact with poultry flocks at markets, mingling of birds at vaccination centres and cock fighting contests, transportation and sale of poultry eggs, purchase and slaughter of birds from markets, and the preparation of poultry meat for consumption.
Based on these findings, they recommended preventative measures including isolating and quarantining flocks, using protective equipment when slaughtering and preparing carcases for consumption, and using social media to promote good hygiene standards.
The researchers said they hoped their findings would help the international community fight the spread of H5N1, which has so far killed 375 people and led to the slaughter of millions of poultry across the world.
They added that the study had also proven that the HACCP system could be used as a rapid response method to tackling emerging outbreaks of infectious diseases.
“We identified poultry transportation, slaughter, preparation and consumption as critical control points in response to HPAI H5N1 outbreaks in Vietnam,” said lead researcher Dr Diana Bell, of UEA’s school of Biological Sciences.
“We also showed that adopting the Hazard Analysis of Critical Control Points (HACCP) system, which is already used in the food production industry, could work very effectively as a precursor to more time-consuming quantitative data collection and biomedical testing.”
The research was conducted as part of a three-year interdisciplinary study of the impact of H5N1 on mechanisms of transmission, local livelihoods and food security. It was funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) and the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC).