Thursday, December 12, 2013

Aerosolized H7N9 Bird Flu In Chinese Wet Markets

UPDATE 12/16/13: Our blog gets a sizable percentage of hits out of China; and it seems as if it may have done some good, as the Chinese are now recognizing Feather Epliators as a source of Aerosolized H7N9
"academics have reached consensus that hair removal machine is a risk factor, after the chicken in hot water burns, turn easily produce aerosol hair removal machine, if the virus could spread through airborne aerosols."
(H/T to for the link thru to "H5N1" who sourced the link)

The Mainland Chinese have used very sensitive tests and discovered three positive H7N9 samples in surface swipes taken from Chinese wet markets. The positive samples came from a cutting board, fecal droppings, and an epilator.

The epliator is a device better known as a mechanical chicken plucker. Rather than describe the device, at the bottom of this post we have embedded a Youtube video of a Chinese Plucker. When watching the video, note the exhaust at the bottom front of the device where the feathers are expelled. There are many homemade versions of this device, the most aerosolizing  versions have rotating drums.

Given the H7N9 detection, the epilators in use in markets likely are the greatest threat to those who do not have direct contact with the birds as they serve to make the virus airborne, especially if the bird is still bleeding from slaughter.

The winner in all of this is Tyson foods, as will it will corprotatize chicken production in China and thereby concentrate the infection potential to the factory floor. Those methods will potentially reduce sporadic small scale infections, however they increase the risk of large scale infection when escaped defects in the system occur.

Currently the Chinese have a reasonable approach to wet market risk mitigation. They close the markets daily for disinfection, and they make sure that bird inventory does not carry over from one day to the next. And they are encouraging people to have the dirty work done at the market, as opposed to taking live chicken home as shown in the 2nd graphic video below.  Together, those steps help to discretize the infection potential, and reduce the risk of creating large urban virus reservoirs.

However, the Chinese could significantly further improve the situation by ensuring that chicken slaughtering, epilating, and butchering (followed by disinfection) occurred before the market opened. Furthermore, they could stabilize supply by freezing excess inventory for use during higher demand periods.

Chinese Chicken Epliator in Action:

 GRAPHIC: Live Chickens Brought Home For Slaughter


  1. Calling out industrial change in China? Man, they won't even shut those live markets down for more than a day or two. they got 4,000 years under their belt by having the most myopic lifestyle on earth, one day at a time. They don't, and can't, give a rat's azz what happens next. It's all about now;!

  2. What are they pouring on the chicken? Water? Is it to prevent particles from aerosolizing?

    1. The hot water the bird is dipped in helps the feathers the release; the recycled water, of H7N9 death, the guy in video is ladling into the epilator helps move the feathers out of the device

  3. Congratulations for being one of 15M 8th graders who could have spotted the epilator producing airborne particles on sight.
    The Chinese never had to think about it before now. And it's epilator, not epliator. Try not to take credit for the sunrise tomorrow. K?
    You've done a nice job finding some of the info to date, but take a break from projecting yourself into the annals of problem solving.
    No one has any idea how long or how hard this virus will run.
    If you want to provide some valuable insight, find some information on what's happening up north, where it has been serious red ass cold for 2-3 weeks. Thank you for your contribution.

    1. Ha, there are 4 billion people who could have done it, BUT DIDN'T. Yours is the logic of every person who looks at a patent and says "I could have done that"; heck its something most physics students say to themselves the first time they are shown how to mathematically derive E=MC^2.

      A better insult would have been: "Even a broken clock is right twice a day", Lol.
      The fact of the matter is that the only we know for sure is that the Chinese had access to our work and mirrored our analysis; and that supports the fact we are happy that we might have helped save some lives.

      As for whats happening up North; the Chinese are only testing the smallest subset of people they can; those with unexplained pneumonia, ILI symptoms, and additional aggravating factors. Of those, they don't usually report anyone testing positive on a quick test; they give them antivirals and then do a laboratory test. In the end the Chinese will be hesitant to report anything that destabilizes the political situation.

      If we were to make a guess, the Chinese probably think it H7N9 is relatively widespread but less dangerous than previously thought. We'll find out if they are right when it spreads to a another country the searches for and investigates unusual pneumonia deaths. There is an OUTSIDE chance a native died of H7N9 in Alaska a few months ago, but the authorities did not investigate to deeply (or atleast didn't make more info public)