Intensifying poultry production systems and the emergence of avian influenza in China: a 'One Health/Ecohealth' epitome. uri icon

abstract

  • Several kinds of pressure can lead to the emergence of infectious diseases. In the case of zoonoses emerging from livestock, one of the most significant changes that has taken place since the mid twentieth century is what has been termed the "livestock revolution", whereby the stock of food animals, their productivity and their trade has increased rapidly to feed rising and increasingly wealthy and urbanized populations. Further increases are projected in the future in low and middle-income countries. Using avian influenza as an example, we discuss how the emergence of avian influenza H5N1 and H7N9 in China was linked to rapid intensification of the poultry sector taking place in landscapes rich in wetland agriculture and wild waterfowls habitats, providing an extensive interface with the wild reservoir of avian influenza viruses. Trade networks and live-poultry markets further exacerbated the spread and persistence of avian influenza as well as human exposure. However, as the history of emergence of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) demonstrates in high-income countries such as the USA, Canada, Australia, the United Kingdom or the Netherlands, this is by no way specific to low and middle-income countries. Many HPAI emergence events took place in countries with generally good biosecurity standards, and the majority of these in regions hosting intensive poultry production systems. Emerging zoonoses are only one of a number of externalities of intensive livestock production systems, alongside antimicrobial consumption, disruption of nutrient cycles and greenhouse gases emissions, with direct or indirect impacts on human health. In parallel, livestock production is essential to nutrition and livelihoods in many low-income countries. Deindustrialization of the most intensive production systems in high-income countries and sustainable intensifications in low-income countries may converge to a situation where the nutritional and livelihood benefits of livestock production would be less overshadowed by its negative impacts on human an ecosystem health.

publication date

  • 2017
  • 2017