Following the emergence of the novel influenza A(H7N9) virus in birds in China, countries in Africa are being encouraged to increase their preparedness for the new, low-pathogenic strain of avian influenza.
The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the African Union's Interafrican Bureau for Animal Resources (AU-IBAR) have identified the need to invest in a project that would assist selected African countries to conduct regular H7N9 risk assessment, implement risk-based surveillance and update their contingency plans.
A number of countries have been identified due to their trade with China, their high density of poultry or a history of infection with H5N1.
Most of these countries have already established surveillance systems and contingency plans to combat the spread of highly pathogenic avian influenza H5N1, which hit Africa in 2006. However, with the advent of low-pathogenic A(H7N9), these surveillance and contingency measure need to be updated.