China Illegal Poultry
Smuggling Spreading H5N1

From Patricia Doyle, PhD
Hello, Jeff -- Illegal animal imports and illegal smuggling of poultry and live avians will keep H5N1 spreading. It would appear that China simply does not care if they export poultry etc and the virus spreads to areas of the world now free from Avian Influenza.
Illegal smuggling is a serious threat to the world. I would hope that the US would begin to get tuff on this crime. I am afraid that it will only be AFTER THE FACT, i.e. once the US makes the announcement that Avian Flu, highly pathogenic H5N1 is here, ONLY AFTER THAT ANNOUNCEMENT will any steps be taken to secure the country from illegal importation.
Nigeria can directly trace its index avian flu case to illegal importation of day old chickens from China.
Cracking down on illegal imporation of poultry, animals, and avian species should be one of the first measures taken in our Avian Flu Prevention Protocols. Simply producing a vaccine that, in the estimation of many scientists, that won't work, or simply stockpiling tamiflu and antivirals that, in a short time, won't prevent avian flu, is NOT doing much in the way of Avian Flu planning. Number one on the protocol list should be sealing the border to smuggled livestock and products as well as illegal enterants into the US. If we attempt this, then I can say we are on the right track.
Remember, the Bird Flu Clock is Ticking.
Patricia Doyle
From Joe Dudley -
The below article [2] published on 16 Mar 2005 by Thanh Nien News contains a detailed description of the various transportation systems used in the trans-frontier poultry smuggling trade between China and Viet Nam.
This article includes an interesting statement that "old hens" [spent layer hens] comprise a significant proportion of the live poultry smuggling trade between Viet Nam and China. It should also be noted in this context that bulk sales of "old birds" -- most probably spent layer hens -- by commercial poultry producers were implicated as a possible contributing factor in at least one human bird flu cluster in Turkey (see 20060111.0100).
Research presented at the 6th International Symposium on Avian Influenza (3-6 Apr 2006) indicate that there are at least 2 reasons why this factor may be significant:
1. Genetics research on H5N1 strains circulating in Viet Nam indicates that there was at least one new introduction of an H5N1 strain from China to Viet Nam during 2005. (The reference to the new introduction of H5N1 to Viet Nam during 2005 came from a presentation by Robert Webster, and the finding was published in a PNAS paper this past February 2006 -- PNAS 103(8), see pg 2847, column 2 PP 2.)
2. Experimental studies have shown that vaccinated chickens can harbor and transmit the H5N1 virus without showing any outward signs of infection, and that vaccinated chickens as well as domesticated ducks can serve as infectious asymptomatic carriers of the Asian H5N1 HPAI virus. (The reference for transmission by vaccinated chickens is M. Bublot et al. of Merial (David Swayne of USDA SEPRL co-author), and for transmission in vaccinated ducks is J.A van der Groot et al (CIADC, Leystadt)).
See also: Chen et al. Establishment of multiple sublineages of H5N1 influenza virus in Asia: Implications for pandemic control. PNAS 103(8), 2845-2850).
The proceedings of the 6th International Symposium on Avian Influenza will be published in the December 2006 issue of Avian Diseases, and the contributed papers should provide many valuable new insights into the mechanisms underlying the spread of the H5N1 bird flu during 2005/2006 from Asia into the Middle East, Europe, and Africa.
Joseph P. Dudley, Ph.D.
Chief Scientist
EAI Corporation
4301 North Fairfax Drive, Suite 200
Arlington, VA 22203
Concerns Mount As Chinese Chickens Illegally Flow Into Viet Nam
Source: Thanh Nien News
16 Mar 2006
The growing illegal import of chickens from China to Viet Nam via northern border gates has become a concern for the country, as the smuggling poses a threat to Viet Nam's attempts to contain the bird flu.
Although the Vietnamese prime minister has issued a ban on the import and transportation of poultry from other countries in order to control the spread of bird flu, smugglers have managed to set up an elaborate system to get chickens from China across the border unchecked. Up to 70 percent of chickens smuggled via the northern border into Lang Son province have escaped proper checks from border guards and police forces, said Captain Le Quang Dao, head of the border guard station surrounding the Huu Nghi International Border Gate.
According to a Thanh Nien investigation, smugglers have designed a sophisticated system to illegally import chickens from China.
1st, the chickens from China are gathered at certain areas near the Huu Nghi Border Gate. From there, smugglers hire porters carrying empty cages to walk up the mountain paths in the area during the night.
The porters then bring the cages, which each contain 40 chickens, down to the mountain foot where a fleet of Minsk motorbike drivers await to carry the cages into Lang Son town. In order to avoid being caught, the motorbike drivers drive at high speeds of 80 to 90 km per hour. From Lang Son town, trucks then transport the smuggled chickens to other localities.
Chinese chickens are usually bought at 12 000 to 13 000 VND [USD 0.75-0.82] per kilogram at border gates and then resold for 17 000 VND [USD 1.06] in Lang Son town, according to smugglers who have been caught. In other provinces, the price of illegally traded chickens can go up to 40 000 VND [USD 2.50].
To ensure they don't get caught, smugglers also have people hanging around near the offices of police and border guards. These people are assigned to immediately sound the alarm when an officer leaves the office.
But, most smugglers are unaware of the dangers they pose by bringing the unchecked chickens into the country. Even worse, some do not care about their health or the health of others.
On 16 Mar 2006, police forces stopped a truck carrying some 1.6 tons of chickens smuggled from China. The chickens, worth an estimated 20 million VND [USD 1255] were then transferred to market monitors for destruction. Most of the chickens were old hens, with some already dead. According to local residents, the Chinese people have sold such chickens to Viet Nam but then go to markets along the border to buy Vietnamese chickens.
When An Thi Binh from Bac Giang province was arrested as the truck owner of the smuggled chickens, she showed no fear that the chickens could possibly carry the bird flu. So far, "nothing has happened to other people trading chickens like me. If anything happens, I will be the 1st to die," she said.
According to Captain Dao, all smuggled chickens caught by police or border guards have been destroyed.
Patricia A. Doyle DVM, PhD
Bus Admin, Tropical Agricultural Economics
Univ of West Indies
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