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Keywords:

  • Influenza;
  • live bird markets;
  • surveillance

Please cite this paper as: Munyua et al. (2013) Detection of influenza A virus in live bird markets in Kenya, 2009–2011. Influenza and Other Respiratory Viruses 7(2), 113–119.

Background  Surveillance for influenza viruses within live bird markets (LBMs) has been recognized as an effective tool for detecting circulating avian influenza viruses (AIVs). In Sub-Saharan Africa, limited data exist on AIVs in animal hosts, and in Kenya the presence of influenza virus in animal hosts has not been described.

Objectives  This surveillance project aimed to detect influenza A virus in poultry traded in five LBMs in Kenya.

Methods  We visited each market monthly and collected oropharyngeal and cloacal specimens from poultry and environmental specimens for virological testing for influenza A by real time RT-PCR. On each visit, we collected information on the number and types of birds in each market, health status of the birds, and market practices.

Results  During March 24, 2009–February 28, 2011, we collected 5221 cloacal and oropharyngeal swabs. Of the 5199 (99·6%) specimens tested, influenza A virus was detected in 42 (0·8%), including 35/4166 (0·8%) specimens from chickens, 3/381 (0·8%) from turkeys, and 4/335 (1·2%) from geese. None of the 317 duck specimens were positive. Influenza was more commonly detected in oropharyngeal [33 (1·3%)] than in cloacal [9 (0·4%)] specimens. None of the 485 environmental specimens were positive. Virus was detected in all five markets during most (14/22) of the months. Ducks and geese were kept longer at the market (median 30 days) than chickens (median 2 days).

Conclusions  Influenza A was detected in a small percentage of poultry traded in LBMs in Kenya. Efforts should be made to promote practices that could limit the maintenance and transmission of AIVs in LBMs.