As vaccination for avian influenza continues to be explored as a means for controlling highly pathogenic avian influenza, the USDA’s stamping out program is still the most effective avenue in managing the virus, according to David E. Swayne, laboratory director, USDA Southeast Poultry Research Laboratory.

Swayne made his comments on June 10 during the webinar Avian influenza: Control efforts and trade impacts. The webinar was hosted by WATT Global Media and sponsored by Zoetis.

Register to see an archived version of the avian influenza webinar.

According to Swayne, eradication is the only strategy for controlling avian influenza, and historically, that has been accomplished through stamping out programs. The USDA stamping out program involves four basic principles:

  1. Enhanced biosecurity to prevent avian influenza from being introduced to unaffected farms or to help prevent the virus from leaving the affected farms
  2. Diagnostics and surveillance measures to quickly find avian influenza infections
  3. Elimination or culling of infected or susceptible birds
  4. Educating all people involved in the production cycle about their responsibilities in controlling the disease


“It takes everybody to adhere to these four basic principals in order to have an effective eradication program,” said Swayne.


Vaccination cannot work alone

Vaccination can have an immediate impact on highly pathogenic avian influenza prevention and management, Swayne said. If a vaccination program is implemented it is important that it be used in conjunction with stamping out programs.

“The vaccination programs themselves do not lead to an eradication,” he said. “They can only be used as an adjunct, and the stamping out is a critical part that has to be done.”

Swayne also spoke about the downsides of vaccination.  He said in flocks earlier affected by avian influenza , the exclusive use of a stamping out program was associated with shorter eradication times, when compared to situations where stamping out and vaccination programs had been used together.

Another drawback of vaccination, Swayne said, is a feeling of complacency that can result. Poultry producers can have a tendency to think once the flocks have been vaccinated, biosecurity efforts can be relaxed, which could ultimately help the virus spread quicker than it maybe would have without vaccination procedures done.

The webinar also featured Dr. Mary Pantin-Jackwood, veterinary medical officer, Southeast Poultry Research Center, who spoke of the different strains of the virus and how they spread through different regions.  Will Sawyer, vice president, Rabobank Food and Agribusiness Research Group, also spoke during the webinar, highlighting avian influenza’s impact on poultry trade and various bans on U.S. poultry that have been put in place.

Bookmark WATTAgNet's avian influenza update page for news and analysis concerning the virus and its impact on the poultry industry.