China’s bird flu outbreak ‘serious’

Poultry prices in China have dropped significantly following avian influenze outbreaks

An outbreak of avian influenza (AI) in China that has already claimed the lives of more than 100 people is likely to hurt the pockets of farmers, according to analysts. 

China’s struggle with the H7N9 AI outbreak has had a massive impact on the country’s poultry industry. Prices of live birds have had a “cliff-like drop”, according to Rabobank animal protein analyst Chenjun Pan and this is likely to hit the country’s farming industry.

“Slaughterhouses have postponed taking birds from farmers and this will hurt their profitability and therefore slow down poultry production until the end of spring,” Chenjun told GlobalMeatNews.

She added production of poultry in the world’s second-largest consumer of chicken had been “hit” by falling prices, saying the situation was “quite serious now”.

The drop comes as the government reported that as many as 79 had died from the H7N9 AI strain in January alone, bringing the total death toll to more than 100 since the virus was detected in October 2016.

Live poultry markets have been closed in China to try and control the disease. Moreover, while this may be working, it has hit production of yellow-feathered birds hard, as live markets are a key distribution channel for this type of livestock. But with no markets to buy the birds from, production is slowing down.

China’s government has said that the worst outbreak of H7N9 AI in China’s history may have passed its peak, but trouble is still expected until at least the spring.

A representative from the World Health Organization (WHO) told this site: “WHO and its partners in China remain vigilant, WHO continues to work closely with the Chinese authorities, and WHO experts are monitoring and analysing the data to assess the situation. We are also working closely with our colleagues from the animal sector, [as well as] the Food and Agriculture Organization, to exchange information.”

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