Biosecurity
July 17, 2017, Developing and implementing biosecurity protocols for feed mills can be challenging. People and trucks from different farms consistently come and go, and equipment is difficult to clean.

Pathogens that enter a feed mill can be disseminated to other locations, creating the potential for an animal-health issue.

Enforcing a biosecurity plan is necessary to minimize adulterants and produce feed that is safe to distribute. For tips on evaluating a feed mill biosecurity plan. READ MORE
July 12, 2017 - Biosecurity needs to be approached as a comprehensive process, not as a series of segregated actions, according to Jean Sander, DVM, senior technical services veterinarian for Zoetis.

For example, people about to enter a poultry house will put on their boots, coveralls, hair nets, but then remember they need a piece of equipment that’s in another house. They quickly retrieve it and bring it into another building without cleaning it first.

That’s a breach of biosecurity, Sander told Poultry Health Today.

The intent is to try and do the right thing, but too often biosecurity isn’t viewed holistically, continued the veterinarian, who primarily works with layer producers. READ MORE 
May 29, 2017, Kelowna, B.C. – A consumer advocate is pushing Ottawa to promote the irradiation of chicken to kill illness-causing bugs and to do a better job of getting buyers on board.

Bruce Cran of the Consumers Association of Canada said the federal government has done ''an incompetent job'' informing Canadians that irradiation is safe and he worries that a lack of action could lead to a deadly outbreak.

''They need to promote an understanding so Canadians can make an informed choice, and they're not doing that for whatever reason,'' Cran said. ''This is not only a safe practice, it's one that many of us would like to be able to use.''

Earlier this year, the federal government approved the sale of ground beef treated with radiant energy similar to X-rays to reduce the risk of illnesses caused by E. coli and salmonella. The products must be labelled to include an international symbol on packaging  usually a green plant inside a circle.

The U.S. has allowed meat to be treated for years, but that country's Food and Drug Administration has noted that consumers' acceptance has been slowed by confusion over how irradiation works and what it does. It notes some people believe it makes food radioactive.

''Our members would absolutely support it,'' said Robin Horel, president of the Canadian Poultry and Egg Processors Council.

''But we haven't pushed hard because ... the companies that produce chicken and turkey are concerned about what the consumer response would be.''

Anna Madison, a spokeswoman for Health Canada, said in an email the federal government would not promote irradiation since it does not engage in promotional activities.

The federal department last examined irradiation for poultry in the early 2000s, but it did not amend regulations to allow it because of concerns from some stakeholders.

Karen Graham, who chaired a panel of Canadian dietitians in the 1980s that considered the issue, said irradiated foods lose vitamin B and fats such as healthy omega-3 are broken down. It can also kill healthy bacteria.

Critics also claim irradiation produces toxins, such as benzene, and changes the taste of meat.

''There aren't consumers with placards saying give us irradiation. This is very much industry driven,'' Graham said in an interview from Kelowna, B.C.

Rick Holley, professor emeritus of food microbiology and food safety at University of Manitoba, said irradiation is safe and is even more important for chicken than for ground beef. Chicken causes more illness in Canada, he said.

Holley said salmonella is naturally present on a lot of chicken and the gastro-intestinal bacteria campylobactor is present on all of it, regardless of whether a bird is free-range or factory.

''Both of these organisms occasionally kill, but because they make more people ill who recover, then the emphasis is not placed on them to the same extent as E. coli O157 in hamburger,'' said Holley, who suggested that irradiating chicken could cut food-related illness in Canada by 25 per cent.

''The political will is certainly there, but it will only move forward in this regard when consumers are made aware of the extent of the problem and the fact that irradiation is such a suitable solution.''

The Health Canada review noted an unpleasant odour with doses of irradiation higher than the one that was being considered for fresh chicken, but the smell was more likely to be noticed by experienced judges than average consumers. It also said the smell disappeared after a few days or after cooking.

Monique Lacroix, a researcher at the Canadian Irradiation Centre and at INRS-Institute Armand Frappier in Laval, Que., said in an interview last year that irradiation done at the low levels proposed by the meat industry, doesn't increase benzene or free radicals in an amount to be of concern. She noted that barbecuing meat produces billions of free radicals.

Graham, however, said irradiation is one more added process that negatively affects food.

''You still have storage. You still have refrigeration. You still have freezing. You still have all those things which are going to cause some nutrient loss and then you're adding irradiation on top of it which also is going to create some losses.''
May 9, 2017 – On May 11, 2017 at 10 AM, WATT Global Media will host a webinar discussing Avian Influenza (AI).

Highly pathogenic AI outbreaks have occurred in commercial poultry operations on every continent except Antarctica in the last decade, including this year’s outbreaks in the U.S., Europe and Asia.

The impact of these outbreaks has increased along with the size of the poultry industry. The outbreak in the U.S. in 2015 was the world’s most expensive resulting in a loss of around 50 million birds, and the current H7H9 outbreak in China has claimed over 100 human lives.

Join a group of panelists from around the globe as they discuss steps that could be taken in the laboratory, on the farm and in the board room to better position the industry to deal with this ongoing challenge. READ MORE
Kevin Weeden was raised on a turkey farm just outside of New Hamburg, Ont. Back in the ‘60s, he remembers seeing the Hybrid turkey crews arrive and change their boots and clothing. Eventually he became Hybrid’s vice-president of sales and marketing, a position he held until 1995. And that, he said, gives him confidence when stating Hybrid is the best in the world at biosecurity.
They’re an ancient foe, a worthy opponent. For over 300 million years, we’ve been battling the bugs of infectious disease – but are we winning?
March 3, 2017, Delft, The Netherlands – Organic producers in Britain have gone high-tech in a bid to keep their poultry safe from avian influenza (bird flu).

“The outbreak of avian influenza here in the UK back in December 2016 has caused untold stress to the poultry and egg sector,” explains Dan England, director of PestFix. “The advent of new Animal & Plant Health Authority (APHA) protocol allows free range birds outdoors, if they can be kept segregated from wild birds. With this rule, the laser technology for bird dispersal comes into its own. Because they are domesticated, the hens are unaffected by the laser.”

One of the farms taking advantage of the technology is Orchard Eggs, based in West Sussex.

“Our birds are housed across 50 acres of orchard and we want to do everything to keep them safe from infection,” says Daniel Hoeberichts, owner of Orchard Eggs. “Once we heard about [laser technology], it seemed like an ideal solution to complement all of our other biosecurity measures.”

Automated lasers are method of repelling unwanted birds without causing harm to the wild birds, the chickens and the surrounding environment. The system being used at Orchard Eggs was developed by Bird Control Group, a Dutch company. The laser is silent and shows effectiveness of 90 to 100 per cent in bird dispersal at farms. This makes it a viable alternative to the expensive method of installing nets at the entire poultry farm.
Dec. 5, 2016 - It turns out birds have a flu season too.

After years of studying the role of wild birds in outbreaks of avian influenza in domestic poultry flocks, one of Canada’s top public sector veterinarians says the bottom line is farmers need to take precaution in the fall.

John Pasick is the national veterinary science authority for the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, and he says there’s an annual rhythm to infections. Much like humans tend to suffer more in the fall when kids return to the Petri dish of schools, birds spread disease in the fall during migration.

“The main message from our research is for farmers to maintain good biosecurity measures in the fall when the birds are migrating,” Pasick said in a recent interview. “Pay close attention to every detail during that time because domestic flocks have little natural immunity to diseases.” | READ MORE.
Dec. 7, 2016 - Poultry across England, Scotland and Wales have been forced indoors as a precaution after announcements by the Chief Veterinary Officers of the countries of avian influenza prevention zones.

The requirements aim to protect poultry from a highly pathogenic strain of avian influenza which has been spreading around Europe recently.

Housing birds is more of an issue for free range producers, but they will retain the ability to market their eggs as free range for the duration of the order. | READ MORE.
Nov. 30, 2016 - A local company has developed an electronic logbook system that can help the livestock industry quickly and easily track movement on and off farms – information that is absolutely critical for preventing or minimizing costly disease outbreaks.

Currently, a paper-based visitor register is the global standard for keeping track of who entered or left a farm property at what time and where they’d been previously.

A manual system is slow and leaves room for error, however, neither of which is helpful during a disease emergency, especially in the early days when spread can still be prevented or contained.

“It’s not just livestock that are affected by catastrophic disease outbreaks, it’s just as important for crop and horticulture growers to keep unclean vehicles moving from farm to farm,” says Tim Nelson, CEO of Be Seen Be Safe Ltd. “Uncontrolled disease populations increase exponentially and that’s why control is so important.”

Be Seen Be Safe uses predetermined geo-fence boundaries around a farm business to automatically record movements on and off the property, either through a mobile phone app or an in-vehicle GPS system used by the individual accessing or leaving the premises.

Property owners can download and review their electronic visitor records using a personal login; no movements outside of the pre-determined geo-fence around the property are recorded.

The information is collated and analysed to predict disease spread, and can then be used to electronically contact people within the surrounding area of a possible outbreak, a process that currently is done manually.

It runs in tandem with the company’s customizable Farm Health Monitor software, which lets farm staff record clinical signs of disease on-farm before there is a formal diagnosis as part of regular or special herd visits. The software also allows for inventory management of antibiotics on-farm, by letting users record both purchase and actual use of antimicrobials.

“This is a proactive decision support tool for farmers,” explains Nelson. “The Farm Health Monitor gives you the clinical signs, Be Seen Be Safe provides the movement, and when you overlay the weather on a network of properties, you can start to show risk that you can alert people to.”

“Everybody is worried about catastrophic diseases, but this is also powerful for production-limiting diseases that can be carried from farm to farm,” he adds. “If livestock and poultry sectors start to see cost benefit from this because it is reducing the rate of production-limiting illness, people will get used to observing and preventing instead of diagnosing and treating disease.”

First steps have been taken to build a farm sector-led biosecurity community with the hosting of a successful information day in Guelph recently.

The system is being trialed in the Ontario poultry industry, as well as with large poultry integrators in the United States, and an agreement is in place with a Spanish partner to roll it out to the swine industry in the European Union.

A pilot is also underway with the wine industry in Australia to track the spread of fomites, which can carry disease.

Be Seen Be Safe has received support from the Bioenterprise Seed Funding program funded by the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario. The Ontario poultry industry trials are supported in part through Growing Forward 2, a federal-provincial-territorial initiative. The Agricultural Adaptation Council assists in the delivery of GF2 in Ontario.
Oct. 14, 2016 - Monitoring the migration routes of wild birds could help to provide early warning of potential bird flu outbreaks, experts say.

The recommendation follows new research that shows migrating birds can help to spread deadly strains of avian flu around the world.

Lethal strains
Some strains of bird flu viruses are highly lethal in birds they infect and pose a major threat to poultry farms worldwide.

In rare cases, the viruses can also infect people and cause life-threatening illness.

Asia outbreak
Researchers investigated how a subtype of bird flu called H5N8 spread around the world following outbreaks in South Korea that began in early 2014.

The virus spread to Japan, North America and Europe, causing outbreaks in birds there between autumn 2014 and spring 2015.

Migration patterns
Scientists analysed migration patterns of wild birds that were found to be infected with the H5N8 virus.

The team then compared the genetic code of viruses isolated from infected birds collected from 16 different countries.

Long-distance flight
Their findings reveal that H5N8 was most likely carried by long-distance flights of infected migrating wild birds from Asia to Europe and North America via their breeding grounds in the Arctic.

The researchers say their findings reinforce the importance of maintaining strict exclusion areas around poultry farms to keep wild birds out.

"Bird flu is a major threat to the health and wellbeing of farmed chickens worldwide,"  says Samantha Lycett with the University of Edinburgh. "Our findings show that with good surveillance, rapid data sharing and collaboration, we can track how infections spread across continents."

Surveillance
Greater surveillance of wild birds at known breeding areas could help to provide early warning of threats of specific flu virus strains to birds and people, they add.

Deadly bird flu strains – known as Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) – can kill up to 100 per cent of the birds they infect within a few days.

The study was conducted by the Global Consortium for H5N8 and Related Influenza Viruses and involved scientists from 32 institutions worldwide.

This study could only have happened through bird flu researchers around the world pooling resources and working together," adds Mark Woolhouse, also with the University of Edinburgh. "We see this as a model for how scientists should unite to combat infectious diseases of all kinds.

Global study
The study is published in the journal Science and was funded by the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme, COMPARE. The Roslin Institute receives strategic funding from the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council.

July 25, 2016 - The H5 avian influenza A virus that devastated North American poultry farms in 2014-15 was initially spread by migratory waterfowl, but evidence suggests such highly pathogenic flu viruses do not persist in wild birds. St. Jude Children's Research Hospital led the research, which appears online this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

While wild ducks and other aquatic birds are known to be natural hosts for low pathogenic flu viruses associated with milder symptoms, the results of this study indicate that is not the case with the highly pathogenic flu viruses that are associated with more severe illness. The research suggests that wild ducks and other aquatic birds are not an ongoing source of highly pathogenic flu infection in domestic poultry.

"The findings provide a scientific basis for the decision by officials to use culling and quarantines to stop the 2014-15 outbreak in domestic poultry," said corresponding author Robert Webster, Ph.D., an emeritus member of the St. Jude Department of Infectious Diseases. "Now, research is needed to identify the mechanism that has evolved in these wild birds to disrupt the perpetuation of highly pathogenic influenza." | READ MORE.

July 15, 2016 - The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) is continuing its investigation into an avian influenza situation near St. Catharines, Ontario. 

There remains one single premises confirmed to be infected with avian influenza, which is a commercial duck farm. The Agency has established an Avian Influenza Control Zone that covers a 3 km boundary from this farm. All other premises located within this zone, as well as other high risk-contact premises have been placed under quarantine. 

The Agency is continuing surveillance and testing within the zone to determine whether there is any additional evidence of avian influenza. To date, all of this testing has been negative. 

The Agency continues to monitor this situation closely. The Avian Influenza Control Zone remains in effect until further notice. 

July 7, 2016- Preliminary testing by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) has confirmed the presence of H5 avian influenza on a duck farm near St. Catharines, Ontario as a low pathogenic subtype. Pathogenicity refers to the severity of the illness caused in birds. Further testing by the CFIA is underway to confirm the precise subtype and strain of the virus. Results are expected within days. 


The CFIA has placed the farm under quarantine to control disease spread and will determine a surrounding surveillance zone for further testing and movement control measures. The industry sector has been notified to adopt enhanced biosecurity practices. 

All birds on the infected premises will be humanely euthanized and disposed of,in accordance with provincial environmental regulations and internationally accepted disease control guidelines, and the Province of Ontario will provide technical support on required carcass disposal. Once all birds have been removed, the CFIA will oversee the cleaning and disinfection of the barns, vehicles, equipment and tools to eliminate any infectious material that may remain. 

On behalf of the four feather boards in Ontario, the Feather Board Command Centre (FBCC) has issued a heightened biosecurity advisory to all industry personnel operating in the Niagara, Ontario Region.

Stakeholders are being asked to implement heightened biosecurity if working on farms or travelling through this area. This includes (but is not limited to):

• wearing boots, protection suits, hats and gloves/hand washing;

• all deliveries/loading should be the last on the route; and

• wash and disinfect the truck’s undercarriage and steps before proceeding with any other delivery/loading.

A Producer Advisory is being distributed by staff from the various Boards to all commercial producers registered small flock growers in this Niagara Region. Should you be aware of health concerns in flocks you deal with, please advise the farmer to contact their veterinarian, as well as their Board or call 1-877-SOS-BYRD.

Updates will be provided through the FBCC website at www.fbcc.ca. There you will find the most current incident status information.

April 29, 2016 In early 2016 Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) was identified in commercial poultry flocks in the United States (U.S.) and Mexico. Wild birds, known carriers of the influenza virus, are believed to be the source of the outbreak in the U.S. These outbreaks highlight the importance of biosecurity.

Wild birds are now in migration. As a result, the health of commercial poultry and small flocks is at risk. Avian influenza spreads when wild birds and people (carrying viruses on their hands, boots, tires etc.) come into contact with commercial/small flocks. Producers and small flock owners are encouraged to check their biosecurity plans to stop disease from flying, walking or rolling into their flock.

Farm staff and service providers who are unwell also pose a risk to flock health. Recently two Canadian commercial poultry flocks tested positive for the H1N1 influenza virus. The H1N1 influenza virus causes human respiratory illness and can be transmitted to poultry. In poultry, the infection may go unnoticed, or it may cause mild respiratory illness and decreased egg production. Although the impact of H1N1 is less severe than HPAI, prevention is important to minimize the potential for new viruses to develop in the bird population. Anyone with respiratory illnesses should avoid contact with poultry. For information on influenza and human health refer to the Public Health Agency of Canada.

Commercial poultry producers and small poultry flock owners are encouraged to protect their flocks by checking their biosecurity plans and making sure that their plans are practiced every day. For more information, please see our webpage: Protecting Your Flock from Influenza – Have You Got It Right?

For more information on biosecurity, visit www.inspection.gc.ca/biosecurity/birds

 

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