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FAO Raises Awareness on Safe Manual Bird Slaughter in Sharkia to reduce human exposure to Avian Influenza
 
As part of its efforts to control Avian Influenza, FAO’s Emergency Centre for Transboundary Animal Diseases (ECTAD) organised a guidance seminar on “safe birds slaughter in a covered pot” at Tal Hawein Preparatory school, a village 3 to 4 kilometres from Zagazig city to raise awareness on the disease.

The seminar was part of ECTAD’s Exposure Reduction Programme (ERP) and was held in cooperation with the General Organisation of Veterinary Services (GOVS), represented by Veterinary Medicine Directorate in Sharkia. ERP is a nation-wide outreach program strongly emphasizes creation of community level awareness and behavioural changes related to safe poultry slaughter in households. The aim is effective communication with target audiences so that Egyptians are better protected against infection with the A/H5N1 virus and its subsequent severe illness. The programme was launched in November, 2015 in all of the 27 Egyptian governorates and has proved great success in promoting awareness to reduce human Avian Influenza infections linked to the traditional unsafe practices of manual slaughter of birds at household sector.

ERP is one component of emergency interventions planned by FAO in collaboration with national Egyptian stakeholders to combat Avian Influenza in Egypt. ERP is a partnership between the Egyptian Ministries of Agriculture and Health, FAO, and USAID. FAO provides technical and logistic support for both national governmental partners to promote the safe birds slaughter in a covered pot as part of their routinely deployed efforts to raise public awareness on the required measures and practices for safe rearing of household poultry.

Preliminary indicators demonstrated considerable reduction in human Avian Influenza infections related to poultry slaughter in house hold sector this year compared to previously recorded cases. The campaign’s objective is to increase the awareness of individuals who slaughter poultry in households as well as people accompanying them, usually women and children(mothers and their kids), in order to reduce their potential exposure to Avian Influenza. ERP promoted procedure is to capture blood-borne virus by placing the slaughtered bird immediately after slaughter inside a covered container until the death struggle totally completed - thereby preventing dispersion of virus into air and inhalant exposure of humans.

Dr Samah Eid Abd El-Salam, national consultant and ERP officer, said: “This seminar is one of ERP outreach series intended to raise public awareness on the safe birds slaughter in a covered pot, focusing on women who might contract Avian Influenza viral infection when they slaughter birds by the traditional way. The campaign’s idea is based on following simple, costless and effective steps to protect those who slaughter poultry from exposure to the virus. This can be done by containing the bird in a covered pot immediately after slaughter, mainly till the completion of death struggle, avoiding potential virus-laden micro droplets of blood and other body fluids to become available for inhalation and subsequent infection. This method is in line with what grandmothers and mothers have taught us, applying very simple effortless technique for containment the bird and any potential infection, using any available container, such as a halla (pot) with a cover, fortunately the halla is available in almost all Egyptian households, beside the great advantage of imposing no costs on the Egyptian family.”

Abd El-Salam added: “The campaign is directed at anyone who slaughters birds manually in households and those accompanying them, especially women and their children. Since the first outbreaks of Avian Influenza recorded in 2006 and till the end of 2015, statistics indicated that a high percentage of the encountered infections were linked to household slaughter, this registered records highlight the importance to prioritise dealing with such high-risk practices through adopting national awareness campaign for safe slaughter practices.”

Dr George Adly Makkari, head of the poultry department at Sharkia Governorate’s Veterinary Medicine Directorate; Dr. Sahar Mahmoud Abdulrahim, in charge of preventive medicine administration at the directorate; Dr Rehab Fadhel, CAHO supervisor; and a large number of citizens and journalists attended the seminar.
 
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