Journal article Open Access

Avian Influenza in Live Bird Markets in the Suez Canal region, Egypt

Amira M. Helal; Abdel Satar Arafa; Hanan F. Abdien; Dalia M. Hamed; Mohsen Z. El Dimerdash

Avian influenza causes severe economic losses in poultry industry and endangers human life. This study aimed to detect avian influenza viruses (AIVs) in live bird markets (LBMs) in the Suez Canal region. Tracheal and cloacal swabs were collected from apparently healthy birds (152 chickens, 119 ducks, 44 geese and 60 turkeys) from live bird markets in Ismailia, Portsaid and Suez Governorates during the period from January to December 2014. Our results revealed that AIVs prevalence was 4.3% in the surveyed markets. The H9 low pathogenic (LPAI) positive birds (56.3%) were higher than H5 highly pathogenic (HPAI) infected cases (43.8%), while no H7 positive cases were detected. The positive cases in turkeys, chickens, geese, and ducks were 6.7%, 5.3%, 4.6%, and 1.7% respectively. Additionally, the highest frequencies were recorded in cold weather during the winter season 2.4%. Our investigation verified that live bird markets in the Suez Canal region continue to be high risk locations for AIVs due to the existence of various AIV subtypes (H5 and H9) in poultry species from different breeding sectors in Egypt. This mixing permits transmission of the disease from infected areas to non-infected ones. In addition, the coexistence of both H5 and H9 subtypes in the same poultry population may provide an opportunity for genetic reassortment and emergence of novel viruses. Consequently, birds in LBMs are incriminated in the continuous circulation of AIVs, therefore representing a main source of AI infection to commercial poultry and householders. Thus, control actions towards AIVs should include live bird markets as a critical threat source of the disease transmission.

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