PUNE: Avian influenza AI (H9N2) has been detected in a few poultry handlers in the city, which increases the need for a more hygienic environment in wet poultry shops, says a new study done by National Institute of Virology (NIV).
"India has reported outbreaks of highly pathogenic avian influenza H5N1 in poultry since 2006, starting with Maharashtra. The evidence of H9N2 in poultry market may lead to H9N2 virus co-exist with the existing poultry viruses including H5N1. Therefore, in the current scenario, surveillance in poultry workers and especially cullers is urgently required in India," Director NIV Akhilesh C Mishra told Sakal Times.
Humans infected with AI H9N2 have been reported in China, Hong Kong, Vietnam and Bangladesh, amongst those who where involved in handling of chicken, washing and cutting the meat prior to onset of influenza-like illness.
The study titled 'Avian Influenza H9N2 Seroprevalence among Poultry Workers in Pune' has been published in the journal 'Plos One'. It has been authored by Shailesh D Pawar, Babasaheb V Tandale, Chandrashekhar G Raut, Saurabh S Parkhi, Tanaji D Barde, Yogesh K Gurav, Sadhana S Kode, and A C Mishra of the Microbial Containment Complex, Pashan and NIV.
"Since H9N2 virus has been found to be crossing over to humans from birds, globally it is listed as one of the emerging influenza viruses, with potential to cause human infection. The butcher community is more vulnerable because they are constantly exposed to poultry birds," the NIV director said.
According to the lead author of the study Shailesh Pawar, regular cleaning and disinfection of wet poultry markets have been found to be helpful in preventing chain of transmission of AI viruses in Indonesia.
"Such attempts would also help India to curtail the spread of the AI viruses in wet poultry markets and exposure to humans. The present pilot study showed low prevalence of antibodies against AI H9N2 virus, which is comparable with reported studies from South-East Asia. Further studies in poultry workers are urgently required in India to monitor human infections," Pawar said.
A total of 338 poultry workers were studied of which 21 were found having anti-bodies for H9N2.
“Since H9N2 virus has been found to be crossing over to humans from birds, globally it is listed as one of the emerging influenza viruses, with potential to cause human infection,” Director NIV Akhilesh C Mishra said.