May 24, 2007
Live Bird Markets
Viral swap meets
The USDA estimates that more than 20 million birds of different species pass through 150 known live bird markets in northeast metropolitan areas of the United States every year. These storefront slaughter facilities can act as viral swap meets where infections with potential human implications like avian influenza can multiply and spread.
Bird flu is not just an Asian problem. Before the emergence of the highly pathogenic H5N1 in China, the largest recorded outbreak of bird flu was here in the United States, an outbreak in Pennsylvania that lead to the deaths of 17 million birds. Both the H5N1 virus and the Pennsylvania H5N2 were linked to live bird markets.
Many Asian countries are shutting down these markets in the interest of public health. The United States should do the same.
Posted May 24, 2007