Thursday, May 20, 2010

Cambodia: Survey finds low practice of prevention measures

May 2010 CBAIRRP Newsletter--To assess the needs of the newly selected areas in Prey Veng and Svay Rieng, CARE conducted six focus group discussions with villagers in four districts.

The FGD found that over 90 percent of the villagers raise chicken in small scale backyard system, mostly for household consumption, with around 10 to 20 percent of households raising ducks as small-scale business enterprise. There is high awareness of avian influenza but low practice of prevention measures.

Villagers believe that AI can be prevented through washing hands with soap after handling poultry and not eating sick or dead poultry, both actions are considered to be the most effective for AI prevention in humans. Direct contact with poultry without wearing protective clothing is believed to be the main route of AI transmission in humans, with eating sick or dead poultry as another key source of infection. Those who directly handle poultry are considered most vulnerable to AI.

Very few people wear masks or scarves and gloves when slaughtering poultry and those who do, do so only when handling sick or dead poultry suspected of AI. Around half of the villagers interviewed are frightened by AI while the rest don?t concern themselves with this disease.

Those who raise ducks practice more preventative measures but not because of
avian influenza but because it makes good business sense; any disease affecting their flock will impact on their ability to earn more income. Hand washing with soap topped the list of the prevention measures practiced by duck raisers as well as regular cleaning of poultry area , which is practiced by over 90 percent.

Most of the duck raisers are not willing to report sick or dead birds which are rather sold to the market to maximize earning potential. They are only concerned about AI infection when there is massive mortality. Even so, reporting is rarely done as duck raisers are concerned they will not get paid for the number of birds authorities will cull.

Villagers believe in the following prevention measures but some consider them costly: confining new incoming poultry around 2 weeks; raising poultry in fence; not allowing sick or dead poultry coming to the raising areas; cleaning areas regularly; keeping middleman away from poultry pen; Among the members of Village Surveillance Team, the village chief is the most trusted source of information on AI as he plays a prominent role in disseminating or promoting AI messages, followed by the Village Animal Health Worker. Chicken raisers interviewed would report suspect case of AI to the village chief or village animal health worker since they are considered to be easily accessible and their response was expected to be more effective than those of other authorities. However, reporting will only be resorted to in the event of massive deaths.

Newly selected VST members strongly feel responsible for AI prevention in their village. VST and district vet have good collaboration in responding to AI issues rather than health center and other relevant agencies. The messages they will disseminate to villagers are: 1) do not eat sick or dead poultry; 2) look out for these symptoms in poultry (black/swollen head and combs and massive death of poultry); 3) wash hands and clean house and yard. Other messages included fencing poultry, and reporting to the VST if they have sick or dead poultry; 4) wear masks when handling poultry.

However, VST members consider it difficult to identify AI cases since the clinical signs in poultry and symptoms in humans are similar to common poultry diseases such as Newcastle Disease, Fowl Pox, Fowl Cholera and seasonal flu in humans. It is also a challenge to carry out regular surveillance as VST members do not receive any monetary incentive and they have other other community development activities to tend to. Their limited knowledge of technical aspects and prevention measures is also considered a barrier.

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