THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 29, 2016

Researchers identify rapid response system for infectious diseases

British researchers recently identified a rapid response system which would be used to stop epidemics of infectious diseases like bird flu, according to a study published on Wednesday in PLOS ONE.

The research team with the University of East Anglia in the United Kingdom adopted a system used widely in the food production industry called the Hazard Analysis of Critical Control Points. The researchers investigated whether it could be used as a rapid response to emerging outbreaks of the H5N1 avian flu virus strain.

After analyzing Vietnam's poultry trade system, the researchers identified four stages in the poultry trade chain that post high risk for the transmission of highly pathogenic avian influenza viruses in human and poultry populations. Transportation, slaughter, preparation and consumption of poultry products were found to be susceptible stages in the poultry process to the spread of disease.

The team found that the HACCP system could stop the spread of H5N1 and other infectious diseases.

"We... showed that adopting the 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," Kelly Edmunds, one of the study's leaders, said.

The researchers recommended putting new practices into place, such as the isolation and quarantining of flocks, using protective equipment like gloves, masks and sterile utensils when slaughtering and preparing carcasses for consumption and using social media to promote standards of good hygiene.

The H5N1 avian flu strains was responsible for millions of poultry deaths and 375 confirmed human cases.