The U.S. is Unprepared for an Avian Influenza Outbreak

Published with permission by Poultry Times.  Originally posted on May 16, 2017.

The U.S. poultry industry is not prepared for an avian influenza outbreak, according to a report from the Government Accountability Office.

One of the problems is that the federal government relies heavily on volunteer efforts to provide biosecurity measures. However, according to the report, the USDA is coming up with two major initiatives to encourage biosecurity improvements.

Another issue addressed is in the production of influenza vaccine for humans. The creation of the vaccines depends on chicken eggs and the Department of Health and Human Services is working on reducing that need of poultry products.

All this is not to say that the USDA is not working hard in response to avian influenza. Surveillance, mass depopulation, disposal and continuity of business are some of the responsibilities the agency handles in response to avian influenza.

However the corrective actions against the disease, such as the ones used in 2014 and 2016, have not been evaluated for their effectiveness, and no plans are in place for future actions to be studied.

However, the corrective actions used against the disease, such as the plans used in 2014 and 2016, the agency created corrective actions against the disease, but these plans have not been evaluated to see how effective they are [sic].

Though the virus has been quiet in the U.S. for several weeks now, it has made a recent resurgent in the U.K. and a deadly zoonotic-strain has been ongoing in China, already killing more than 2,000 people. The summer heat helps combats the disease, but there is no guarantee that it will not return. Three states were reported to have the virus in the hot summer month of July last year.

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