Interspecies transmission of pathogens is an unfrequent but naturally occurring event and human activities may favour opportunities not previously reported. Reassortment of zoonotic pathogens like influenza A virus can result from these activities. Recently, swine and birds have played a central role as “mixing vessels” for epidemic and pandemic events related to strains like H1N1 and H5N1. Unsafe practices in poultry markets and swine farms can lead to interspecies transmission, favouring the emergence of novel strains. Thus, understanding practices that lead to interspecies interactions is crucial. This qualitative study aimed to evaluate poultry processing practices in formal and informal markets and the use of leftovers by swine farmers in three Peruvian cities: Lima (capital), Tumbes (coastal) and Tarapoto (jungle). We conducted 80 direct observations at formal and informal markets and interviewed 15 swine farmers. Processors slaughter and pluck chickens and vendors and/or processors eviscerate chickens. Food safety and hygiene practices were suboptimal or absent, although some heterogeneity was observed between cities and chicken vendors versus processors. Both vendors (76%) and processors (100%) sold the chicken viscera leftovers to swine farmers, representing the main source of chicken viscera for swine farms (53%). Swine farmers fed the chicken viscera to their swine. Chicken viscera cooking times varied widely and were insufficient in some cases. Non-abattoired poultry leads to the sale of poultry leftovers to small-scale swine farms, resulting in indirect but frequent interspecies contacts that can lead to interspecies transmission of bacterial pathogens or the reassortment of influenza A viruses. These interactions are exacerbated by suboptimal safety and hygiene conditions. People involved in these activities constitute an at-risk population who could play a central role in preventing the transmission of pathogens between species. Educational interventions on hygiene and food safety practices will be important for reducing the risk of interspecies influenza transmission.
- food safety
- influenza A virus
- occupational exposure
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Immunology and Microbiology(all)
- Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
- Infectious Diseases