The H7N7 avian influenza cases confirmed during the week of June 18 in Boles, Ark., should have the entire industry thinking about the disease and its impact on poultry exports. Mike Donohue, vice president of Agri Stats, said anyone who has an avian influenza vaccination plan needs to become familiar with it.
Speaking at the USPOULTRY Financial Management Seminar on June 25, Donohue said that in 2008, a lot of poultry companies implemented some sort of avian influenza program after author John Barry wrote the book, The Great Influenza, telling about the 1918 outbreak in China that killed tens of millions of people and gave insight on a possible upcoming pandemic of avian influenza.
"Most of our companies have set up some sort of avian influenza program and thought we were going to control it if it came to our shores. It did not come at that time. But the question came up," said Donohue. "If you've got those plans in place, dust them off. Pull them out of the filing cabinet. Bring them back up on a PDF format on your computers."
While the influenza found in Arkansas was low-pathogenic, the ban of Arkansas poultry exports to certain countries has already surfaced. It was only several weeks ago that Arkansas was authorized again to export to China after a moratorium that lasted roughly seven years, Donohue said. The fate of any possible bans may depend on the United States' relationship with a particular country, he added.
Donohue also said the U.S. poultry industry should be vigilant about avian influenza because of the outbreaks in Mexico during 2012 and again in 2013, saying Mexico is not that far away and infections could cross the border.