The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) is working tirelessly to combat the ongoing avian influenza outbreaks. Avian flu is a highly contagious disease that can have devastating impacts on the poultry industry, causing significant economic losses for producers. The USDA is taking a multi-faceted approach to mitigate the spread of the virus, including the development of a new vaccine, enhanced biosecurity measures, and on-the-ground personnel to quickly respond to cases and prevent the disease’s spread.
The USDA is conducting trials for a new avian influenza vaccine designed to prevent the spread of the virus. The vaccine targets a specific part of the avian flu virus and is designed to be highly effective and provide long-lasting protection against the disease. The trials are being conducted in partnership with several poultry producers across the US. If successful, the vaccine could be made available to producers in the near future, providing a valuable tool in the fight against avian flu and helping to protect the health and wellbeing of both poultry and humans.
Enhanced biosecurity measures are also a crucial part of the USDA’s efforts to combat avian influenza. The department has reinforced the importance of biosecurity, enhanced surveillance, and testing, and the use of on-the-ground personnel to quickly respond to cases and prevent the disease’s spread. Biosecurity is the best defense against avian influenza, and the USDA encourages all bird owners to review resources on managing wildlife to prevent avian influenza, evaluate their biosecurity plans, and develop strategies to prevent any exposure to wild birds or their droppings.
In April 2023, the USDA held a stakeholder roundtable with poultry industry leaders and state government officials to discuss the current and future HPAI strategy and opportunities for continued collaboration. Participants had the opportunity to hear from USDA leaders and other experts from USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service and the Agricultural Research Service, which is testing a number of potential vaccines. The lessons learned since the last major HPAI outbreak have reinforced the importance of biosecurity, enhanced surveillance and testing, and on-the-ground personnel to quickly respond to cases and prevent the disease’s spread.
Since the first case of HPAI was confirmed in a commercial flock in the US in February 2022, the USDA has quick to identify cases and respond immediately to stop the virus from spreading. Thanks to collaborative state and industry partnerships and enhanced national animal disease preparedness and response capabilities, the USDA is successfully controlling this outbreak and mitigating its impact on poultry production and trade. USDA has also achieved tremendous cost-savings during this outbreak – almost 50% over the last outbreak – while also working to secure regionalization agreements and keep markets open with key trading partners.