When you are suspicious, it is very important to have fast lab results and quick depopulation of live birds if the results are positive. As the disease progresses through a farm, the environmental contamination grows and promotes the spreading,” said Dr. Jill Nezworski, Blue House Veterinary, during her presentation at the “Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza – Lessons Learned” education program held during the 2016 International Production & Processing Expo (IPPE) in Atlanta, Ga. Nezworski discussed “Lessons Learned in the Layer Industry” in which she provided comparisons and contrasts between early detection of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) on farms and late detection due to mortality.
Nezworski observed that diagnosis of HPAI should be communicated to employees in an organized chain of command, and every hourly employee must also be educated and empowered. “False alarms may come up, but it is more important to create a culture in which it is fine to be wrong or overcautious,” she says. She emphasized that it is essential to have a quick and realistic depopulation plan, as well as a primary plan and a backup plan for carcass disposal. After depopulation is over, she underscored the need for the entire site to be decontaminated with the thought that even outside premises still likely accumulate viral contamination. Nezworski stressed that big risks should be addressed, and management should make it hard for the system to fail.
During his presentation on “Lessons Learned in the Turkey Industry,” Dr. Ben Wileman, Ag Forte, reflected that a clear sign of HPAI on a turkey farm is when a person enters the house and the turkeys are quiet. Wileman observed that when sick, animals develop neurologic signs, twist their necks and have tremors. He recommended, “When in doubt, test it.”
Dr. Lindsey Garber, USDA APHIS, Veterinary Services, provided an overview of the “Epidemiology of the Recent AI Outbreak” that addressed the results of two studies, one with HPAI infected layer farms and the other with turkeys. The two studies concentrated on potential risk factors for the spread of HPAI, including rendering and garbage trucks, shared equipment use, visitors, wild bird presence, etc. The result from both studies centered on the need for effective and efficient biosecurity measures at all levels.