Biosecurity
In 2014/2015 an outbreak of highly pathogenic Avian Influenza (AI) struck British Columbia. A total of 13 poultry farms were affected and approximately 240,000 birds died or were destroyed to control the outbreak.

In addition, the disease was detected in the U.S. where more than 48 million birds were lost and the outbreak was estimated to have cost US$3.3 billion and resulted in shortages and price increases for certain poultry products.

Wild waterfowl are known to be the reservoir for AI, and although wild bird AI surveillance programs were already in place in Canada and the U.S., it was limited to collecting and testing individual wild birds.

To improve the surveillance to include environmental monitoring, in 2015 the BC Ministry of Agriculture, BC Centre for Disease Control Public Health Laboratory, and University of British Columbia joined forces to develop a new approach - a genomics-based test that identifies and characterizes AI viruses (AIV) in wetland sediments.

This work, funded in part by Genome British Columbia (Genome BC) and led by Drs. Chelsea Himsworth, Jane Pritchard, William Hsiao, Natalie Prystajecky, and Agatha Jassem, successfully demonstrated that this novel approach worked, as AIV was detected in a significant proportion of sediment samples, compared to less than one percent rate of detection in the current Canadian national wild bird AI surveillance program.

Additionally, the outbreak virus was found in wetlands throughout the Fraser Valley, information that could have been used to mitigate the outbreak had this technology been available.

To further evaluate this novel surveillance approach, a new project, Genomic Analysis of Wetland Sediment as a Tool for Avian Influenza Surveillance and Prevention, represents a combined investment of over $2.5 million from funders and delivery partners including Genome BC, the BC Ministry of Agriculture, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA), Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, Investment Agriculture Foundation of BC, and the Sustainable Poultry Farming Group.

This phase follows on from previous work and is looking at what steps are required to move the technology from a successful proof-of-concept initiative to implementation. This includes scientific validation of technology, as well as its incorporation into Provincial and National Wild Waterfowl AI Surveillance Programs. It is anticipated that this innovative approach will be adopted nationally and internationally for surveillance of AI and/or other diseases associated with wildlife.

"This investment allows Dr. Himsworth and the team to refine and validate the AI sediment surveillance with genomics technologies, methodology and field approach," says Dr. Catalina Lopez-Correa, chief scientific officer and vice president, sectors, at Genome BC. "Most importantly it allows for the identification of the optimal combination of AI surveillance techniques for maximum efficiency and efficacy."
Published in Health
DATE: June 17, 2018

LOCATION: City of Kawartha Lakes County, Ontario

DETAILS: ILT has been diagnosed in a backyard poultry flock within the City of Kawartha Lakes County, Ontario. OMAFRA provided no specific location as this is an unregistered flock but has indicated that all birds on the farm have been depopulated and that there are no plans to re-stock in the near future.

Farmers and small flock growers in this area are being contacted and advised to enhance their biosecurity programs. Please reinforce your biosecurity protocols if working with flocks or travelling through this area. This advisory status is anticipated to last until the end of July 2018.

SOURCE:
https://gallery.mailchimp.com/4baae7f69906e1771dd506b2b/files/a1592d79-7c99-42f4-b08b-8f9ba043378c/ILT_City_of_Kawartha_Lakes_June_2018_Industry_Advisory.pdf

Published in Disease watch
DATE: June 14, 2018

LOCATION: Village of Donchevo [Dobrich]

DETAILS: An outbreak of a virulent bird flu virus has spread to another farm in northeastern Bulgaria, the national food safety agency reported on June 13, 2018.

A three-kilometer protection zone was set around the farm in the village of Donchevo [Dobrich] and the sale of eggs and the movement of domestic, wild, and other birds was banned within it, the agency said in a statement.

Two weeks ago, the agency authorities reported an outbreak of the virus on a duck farm in the village of Stefanovo [Dobrich] and said birds on the farm were being culled.

Bulgaria has reported a handful of outbreaks in the past year, some involving the highly pathogenic H5N8 bird flu virus.

SOURCE:
http://www.promedmail.org/post/5856014

ProMED-mail post
http://www.promedmail.org/

ProMED-mail is a program of the International Society for Infectious Diseases
http://www.isid.org

Published in Disease watch
DATE: June 10, 2018

LOCATION: 36 states

DETAILS: Multistate outbreaks of salmonella infections linked to contact with live poultry in backyard flocks. As of June 1, 2018, 124 people infected with the outbreak strains of salmonella have been reported from 36 states.

Epidemiologic, traceback, and laboratory findings link these outbreaks to contact with live poultry, such as chicks and ducklings, which come from multiple hatcheries. In interviews, 55 (74 per cent) of 74 ill people with information available reported contact with chicks or ducklings in the week before their illness started. People reported obtaining chicks and ducklings from several sources, including feed supply stores, websites, hatcheries, and from relatives.

A total of 70 outbreaks of salmonella infections have been linked to contact with backyard flocks since 2000 [see URL for link to PDF]. In 2017, CDC reported the largest number of illnesses ever recorded linked to backyard flocks.

SOURCE:
http://www.promedmail.org/post/5848079

ProMED-mail post
http://www.promedmail.org/

ProMED-mail is a program of the International Society for Infectious Diseases
http://www.isid.org

Published in Disease watch
In a chicken industry that is minimizing the use of antibiotics, our ability to provide an optimal clean environment is paramount. This can be achieved through cleaning and disinfection (C&D) and strict biosecurity.
Published in Ask the Vet
Avian influenza (AI) can infect domesticated and wild birds, including chickens, turkeys, pheasants, quails, ducks, geese, and guinea fowl.

Birds become infected when they have direct contact with the ocular or nasal discharge or feces from infected birds or from contact with contaminated surfaces, food or water supply.

There is an increased risk of AI infection to poultry flocks during spring and fall wild bird migration.

AI can be brought into a barn as a result of lapses in biosecurity, and it is most often transmitted from one infected commercial flock to another by movement of infected birds, contaminated equipment or people.

All poultry farmers should monitor bird mortality, and track flock feed and water consumption. Monitor for clinical signs of AI infection, such as depression, decreased feed consumption, a drop-in egg production, swollen wattles, sneezing, gasping, discharge from the nose or eyes, diarrhea or sudden death.

If you have any concerns regarding the health status of your flock, contact your veterinarian immediately.

Key steps to reduce the risk of AI infection in your flock include:
  • Adequate training of farm and company personnel in biosecurity and disease prevention measures.
  • All people entering poultry barns, including farmers, employees and service providers must put on clean footwear, protective clothing and follow all biosecurity protocols each time a barn is entered.
  • Minimize visits to other poultry production sites and avoid co‐mingling of birds from multiple sources as well as contact with outside/wild birds.
  • Avoid exchanging and sharing equipment with other poultry production sites or farms.
  • Ensure all vehicles and farm equipment that access the barn vicinity are properly washed, disinfected and thoroughly dried before use.
  • Ensure that laneways are secured and have restricted access.
  • Prevent wild bird and rodent entry to poultry barns and related facilities.
  • Ensure that bedding is free of contaminants including feces from wild animals.
  • If possible, “heat treat” the barn/litter ahead of chick or poult placement (to 30°C for at least 3 days).
Published in Disease watch
The H3N2 canine influenza virus was detected in dogs in Ontario this past December. Some producers might be wondering if the outbreak poses a threat to poultry. While the strain is of avian origin, experts Canadian Poultry consulted say the chances of it being transmitted to poultry now that it has switched to a canine-adapted virus are small. Thus, they consider any related disease threat to the poultry industry in Canada to be very low.
Published in Barn Management
Antibiotic resistance is real. In Canada and around the world, fewer antimicrobials remain effective in controlling infection as more microbes become resistant in both human and veterinary medicine.
Published in Ask the Vet
Ensuring that Canadians have access to safe and healthy food is a top priority for the federal government. The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA), along with their federal food safety partners, Health Canada and the Public Health Agency of Canada, as well as industry, remind Canadians about the importance of always fully cooking frozen raw breaded poultry products prior to consumption, as well as using proper food handling techniques and following cooking instructions to limit the risk of foodborne illnesses as salmonella is commonly found in raw chicken and frozen raw breaded chicken products.

Extensive efforts have been made by the federal food safety partners and the industry to increase consumer awareness that these products are raw and need to be fully cooked before consumption, as well as significant attempts by the industry to improve labelling and cooking instructions on packages.

Despite these efforts, frozen raw breaded chicken products continue to be identified as a source of salmonella infection in Canada.

As such, the CFIA is working with industry to identify and implement measures at the manufacturing/processing level to reduce salmonella to below a detectable amount in frozen raw breaded chicken products such as chicken nuggets, chicken fingers, chicken strips, popcorn chicken and chicken burgers that are packaged for retail sale. This approach focuses the responsibility on the poultry industry and represents a fundamental change to existing requirements for frozen raw breaded chicken products.

These new measures call for processors to identify salmonella as a hazard and to implement changes in order to produce an end product that reduces salmonella to below a detectable amount. The CFIA has granted industry a 12-month implementation period, to begin immediately, to make these changes.

"The poultry industry's objective is to provide consumers with affordable, safe poultry products, every day. We will continue to work with CFIA to ensure consumers have access to safe frozen raw breaded chicken products," said Robin Horel, president and CEO, Canadian Poultry & Egg Processors Council.

In the last 10 years the incidence of salmonella illness in Canada has steadily increased. This increase has been driven by Salmonella enteritidis (SE), the most common strain of salmonella in the food supply that is often associated with poultry.

While frozen raw breaded chicken products often appear to be "pre-cooked" or "ready-to-eat," these products contain raw chicken and are intended to be handled and prepared the same way as other raw poultry. The safety of these products rests with the consumer who is expected to cook it, according to the directions on the package.

In 2015, industry voluntarily developed additional labelling on frozen raw breaded chicken products that included more prominent and consistent messaging, such as "raw," "uncooked" or "must be cooked" as well as explicit instructions not to microwave the product and they voluntarily introduced adding cooking instructions on the inner-packaging bags.

For more information, visit: http://www.inspection.gc.ca

Published in News
A highly contagious strain of bird flu (H5N6) has been reported at chicken farms near Seoul. In a recent statement, the South Korean Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs said it confirmed a "highly pathogenic strain of H5N6 avian influenza" on a chicken farm in Pyeongtaek in Gyeonggi Province.

According to the ministry, there have been 16 cases of avian influenza confirmed on poultry farms and 10 in wild birds.

Fears of the virus spreading in the week just before the Winter Olympic Games begin have prompted the government to quarantine farms where the virus is present and led to further plans to inspect nearby farms. For the full story, CLICK HERE.
Published in News
Huntsville, Ala. – Aviagen, the global poultry genetics company, has become the first poultry breeder in the U.S. to be certified as an Avian Influenza Clean Compartment.

The USDA Animal Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) National Poultry Improvement Plan (NPIP) established the program to set standards for protection against avian influenza (AI) in primary poultry breeding companies.

Aviagen's pedigree and great grandparent facilities were audited and certified that they meet these standards by the USDA APHIS.

Compartmentalization is an international program developed by the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE).

It provides a mechanism for countries around the world to accept stock from an exporting country with an AI outbreak by providing the importing country’s officials with the ability to evaluate suppliers based on an exporting company’s management practices and biosecurity program.

In 2010, Aviagen became the first primary poultry breeding company to achieve compartment status recognized by a government agency for its facilities in the U.K.

Since compartment status has been in place, the company has successfully exported to several countries throughout the world during outbreaks of notifiable disease in the U.K.

Later in 2015, Aviagen India’s Elayamuthur facility was granted the status by the Central Indian Government and State Government of Tamil Nadu.

Thus, in the event of a notifiable disease, Aviagen India continues to deliver birds to customers in India or other countries that have formally recognized and accepted the status.

In a press release, Aviagen CEO Jan Henriksen praised the program for facilitating international trade.

“In today’s world, AI has become the biggest threat to international trade, and compartmentalization helps eliminate this threat,” he said.

“With compartment certification, primary breeding companies like Aviagen can offer poultry growers worldwide an uninterrupted supply of quality breeding stock, enabling them to sustain the earth’s growing populations with reliable, healthful and affordable protein.”
Published in Companies
The International Egg Commission (IEC) Avian Influenza Global Expert Group has developed a comprehensive new resource to promote biosecurity.

IEC established the group, made up of leading scientists, vets and industry experts, in 2015 to develop practical solutions to combat avian influenza (AI).

The group has already made significant progress.

For instance, it identified that improving biosecurity is the single most important step in protecting businesses from a wide variety of diseases, including AI.

Based on these findings, it developed a comprehensive practical biosecurity checklist that is now freely available for the egg industry to download.

The document offers practical guidelines to egg farmers and producer businesses to help reduce the risk of infection on their farms and operational facilities.

Critical guidelines featured within the checklist include:
  • Preventing chickens having contact with rodents and wild birds
  • Controlling the movement of vehicles and people
  • Consistent use of dedicated, protective clothing and footwear for anyone that has access to chickens
The AI Expert Group will next release a paper on AI vaccinations, providing an evaluation of the advantages and constraints of such programs.
Published in Layers
August 3, 2017, Brussels, Belgium – The European Union says a pesticide-contaminated egg scare in some EU countries is under control.

Dozens of farms were being checked in the Netherlands, and Belgium's food safety agency was probing how the anti-tick and flea pesticide Fipronil might have entered eggs destined for supermarkets. Fipronil is banned in products for treating animals like chickens that are part of the human food chain.

European Commission spokeswoman Anna-Kaisa Itkonen said Thursday that ''the eggs are blocked. The contaminated eggs have been traced and withdrawn from the market and the situation is under control.''

Belgian food authorities say suspect eggs have been destroyed and there is no danger to public health given the small amounts of the pesticide that might have entered any eggs that reached the market.
Published in Layers
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 
Published in Barn Management
June 26, 2017, Ontario - Infectious bronchitis infections continued to increase this year in the Ontario broiler, broiler breeder and layer sectors.

Infectious bronchitis virus (IBV) can be spread by aerosol, ingestion of contaminated feed and water, and contact with contaminated equipment or clothing.

The IB virus is not transmitted directly from the hen to the embryo in the egg. Variant virus strains, very different to the commercial vaccine virus strains, continue to be isolated.

Clinical signs can include: increased mortality with or without respiratory signs, stall in growth rate, decrease in egg production in laying birds, and increased condemnations.

The virus is fragile, easy to kill if exposed to warmer temperatures or disinfectants, but it will survive longer if protected in organic material.

Properly implemented biosecurity is the poultry producer’s first line of defence against IBV. Your farm biosecurity protocols should be well thought out, stringently implemented and continuously followed.

The following is a list of suggested biosecurity measures for Ontario poultry farms:
  • Each farmer, employee and every person entering any poultry barn must put on clean footwear, protective clothing and follow all biosecurity protocols.
  • Minimize visits to other poultry production sites and avoid any commingling of birds.
  • Avoid exchanging equipment with other poultry production sites.
  • Ensure all vehicles/farm equipment that access the barn vicinity are clean and that the laneway is restricted/secured.
  • If possible, have a pressure washer or a hose available to wash tires and equipment, and make this available to all service vehicles and visitors.
  • If possible, “heat treat” the barn/litter after cleanout and introduction of new bedding, and in advance of bird placement (to 32˚C or 90° F for a minimum of 2-3 days).
Note the floor under the bedding must reach 32° C for this technique to be effective. The temperature should be measured with an appropriate thermometer (consider an infrared thermometer) at multiple locations along the inside perimeter of the barn at least three times a day.

Although commercial IBV vaccines are not directly protective against variant strains, they may provide some local immunity; therefore, it is recommended to use a robust vaccination program in accordance with your veterinarian’s recommendations.

Industry is investigating regulatory requirements to import vaccine to protect against the new strain that has been isolated.

Should you suspect any health concerns in your flock, talk to your veterinarian to determine best health management measures.

Additional information on IBV is available at:
http://oahn.ca/wp-content/uploads/2016/12/Dec-2016-OAHN-special-report-on-IBV-FINAL.pdf http://oahn.ca/wp-content/uploads/2017/04/OAHN-Producer-Report-Q1-2017-FINAL.pdf
Published in Health
June 22, 2017, China – Scientists have identified three mutations that, if they occurred at the same time in nature, could turn a strain of bird flu now circulating in China into a potential pandemic virus that could spread among people.

The flu strain, known as H7N9, now mostly infects birds but it has infected at least 779 people in outbreaks in and around China, mainly related to poultry markets.

The World Health Organization said earlier this year that all bird flu viruses need constant monitoring, warning that their constantly changing nature makes them "a persistent and significant threat to public health".

At the moment, the H7N9 virus does not have the capability to spread sustainably from person to person. But scientists are worried it could at any time mutate into a form that does.

To assess this risk, researchers led by James Paulson of the Scripps Research Institute in California looked at mutations that could potentially take place in the H7N9 virus's genome.

They focused on the H7 hemagglutanin, a protein on the flu virus surface that allows it to latch onto host cells.

The team's findings, published in the journal PLoS Pathogens, showed that in laboratory tests, mutations in three amino acids made the virus more able to bind to human cells - suggesting these changes are key to making the virus more dangerous to people.

Scientists not directly involved in this study said its findings were important, but should not cause immediate alarm.

"This study will help us to monitor the risk posed by bird flu in a more informed way, and increasing our knowledge of which changes in bird flu viruses could be potentially dangerous will be very useful in surveillance," said Fiona Culley, an expert in respiratory immunology at Imperial College London.

She noted that while "some of the individual mutations have been seen naturally, ... these combinations of mutations have not", and added: "The chances of all three occurring together is relatively low."

Wendy Barclay, a virologist and flu specialist also at Imperial, said the study's findings were important in showing why H7N9 bird flu should be kept under intense surveillance.

"These studies keep H7N9 virus high on the list of viruses we should be concerned about," she said. "The more people infected, the higher the chance that the lethal combination of mutations could occur."
Published in Research
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.''
Published in Barn Management
April 17, 2017, Dufferin County, Ont. – On behalf of the four feather boards, the Feather Board Command Centre (FBCC) is issuing an Infectious Laryngotracheitis (ILT) Disease advisory to all poultry industry service providers operating in a 10-km zone in Dufferin County southwest of Shelburne.

FBCC has been alerted by the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA) that birds from a small backyard “dual purpose” chicken flock in Dufferin County have tested positive for Infectious Laryngotracheitis.

The lab submission came through the Small Flock Surveillance Project administered by OMAFRA and the University of Guelph. OMAFRA staff are providing advice to the small flock owner and his veterinarian to ensure proper biosecurity and disease control measures are implemented.

This advisory status is anticipated to last until late May. READ MORE
Published in Health
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.
Published in Barn Management
March 30, 2017, University Park, PA — Poultry and animal disease experts in Penn State's College of Agricultural Sciences are urging commercial poultry producers to ramp up their vigilance and biosecurity in the wake of recent outbreaks of avian influenza in several states.

In early March, the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (USDA-APHIS) announced that a commercial flock of breeder chickens in Tennessee tested positive for highly pathogenic avian flu, or HPAI. Since then, USDA-APHIS has revealed another case of the same H7N9 virus at a second Tennessee farm, and Alabama agriculture officials announced an outbreak of suspected low-pathogenic avian flu affecting three premises in that state.

In addition, low-pathogenic avian flu was reported in a Wisconsin turkey flock and a Kentucky broiler breeder flock, and routine surveillance has found the presence of low-pathogenic avian flu in wild waterfowl in various states.

The pathogenicity of a virus refers to its ability to produce disease. Some H5 or H7 viruses have the capacity to mutate into "high-path" strains under certain conditions, according to Eva Wallner-Pendleton, senior research associate and avian pathologist in Penn State's Animal Diagnostic Laboratory.

"Low-path AI viruses can go undiagnosed because they often produce very little illness or death," she said. "The time needed to mutate into high-path viruses varies considerably from weeks to months, or it can occur rapidly."

Infection with North American strains of low-pathogenic avian flu is a common natural occurrence in wild birds, such as ducks and geese, which usually show few or no symptoms, Wallner-Pendleton explained.

"But if these strains get into a poultry flock, they can mutate and become highly pathogenic, causing significant mortality," she said.

She noted that poultry flocks infected with low-pathogenic H5 or H7 avian flu subtypes often will be culled to stop the spread of the virus and to keep it from becoming more virulent.

The recent Tennessee outbreak occurred within the Mississippi flyway, which is one of four paths taken by wild birds when migrating in the spring and fall in North America. During the 2014-15 outbreak of highly pathogenic H5N2 avian flu that led to the loss of about 50 million turkeys and laying hens in the Midwest, the Atlantic flyway – which connects with the Mississippi flyway – was the only migratory flyway not affected.

"In Tennessee, one of the affected poultry houses was near a pond, which may have attracted wild waterfowl," Wallner-Pendleton said. "In cool, wet weather, bird droppings can contain viable virus for a long time, and the pathogen can be spread to poultry flocks on people's shoes or on vehicle tires and so forth. So a key biosecurity recommendation is to prevent any contact between waterfowl and domestic poultry and to take steps to ensure that the virus is not introduced into a poultry house on clothing or equipment."

Gregory Martin, a Penn State Extension poultry science educator based in Lancaster County, pointed out that state and federal agriculture officials are strongly urge producers to develop an HPAI flock plan and augment it with a comprehensive biosecurity plan.

"These plans may be required for producers to receive indemnification for any losses resulting from an avian flu outbreak," he said.

To assist producers in developing a biosecurity plan, Martin said, Penn State poultry scientists and veterinarians have developed a plan template that can be customized for various types of flocks.
Published in Broilers
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