Professor and Head
Hong Kong University
Novel influenza viruses continue to emerge, posing zoonotic and potentially pandemic threats, such as with avian influenza A H7N9. Although closure of live poultry markets (LPMs) in mainland China stopped H7N9 outbreaks temporarily, closures are difficult to sustain, in view of poultry production and marketing systems in China. In this Personal View, we summarise interventions taken in mainland China, and provide evidence for other more sustainable but effective interventions in the live poultry market systems that reduce risk of zoonotic influenza including rest days, and banning live poultry in markets overnight. Separation of live ducks and geese from land-based (ie, non-aquatic) poultry in LPM systems can reduce the risk of emergence of zoonotic and epizootic viruses at source. In view of evidence that H7N9 is now endemic in over half of the provinces in mainland China and will continue to cause recurrent zoonotic disease in the winter months, such interventions should receive high priority in China and other Asian countries at risk of H7N9 through cross-border poultry movements. Such generic measures are likely to reduce known and future threats of zoonotic influenza.