Those in the poultry industry can learn more about the highly pathogenic avian influenza outbreak in North America, in the free, on-demand webinar “Avian influenza: Control efforts and trade impacts,” hosted by WATT Global Media and sponsored by Zoetis.

Speakers for the webinar include Dr. David Swayne, laboratory director, Southeast Poultry Research Laboratory, USDA/Agricultural Research Service; Dr. Mary Pantin-Jackwood, veterinary medical officer, Southeast Poultry Research Laboratory; and Will Sawyer, vice president, Rabobank Food and Agribusiness Research group



Highlights shared by the three panelists include:

  1. The downsides of avian influenza vaccination – In flocks affected by avian influenza, the exclusive use of a culling program was associated with shorter eradication times when compared to situations where culling and vaccination programs had been used together, said Swayne.
  2. Virus hard to detect in wild birds -- The 2015 North American outbreak of avian influenza differs from other outbreaks because of the way it is being spread through wild birds. “Usually high-path avian influenza is not moved by wild birds,” said Pantin-Jackwood. “This outbreak is different in that migratory birds seem to be infected with [highly pathogenic avian influenza] viruses and do not show clinical signs, but shed enough of the virus to transmit the disease [to commercial poultry].”
  3. Viruses are constantly changing – One of the biggest challenges in protecting poultry from avian influenza is that the viruses are constantly changing. Pantin-Jackwood points out that avian influenza is a virus whose genetic identity is constantly shifting and mixing. Wild birds that carry the virus can migrate across and between continents and an avian flu virus in North America today may be trading genetic material with one that was on another continent during the last migration cycle.
  4. U.S. broiler exports to drop – As a result of trade bans issued over fears of avian influenza’s spread, U.S. broiler exports are forecast to drop by 11 percent in 2015, said Sawyer.

Many other insights are shared on the webinar, which features prepared remarks from the speakers, as well as questions provided by audience members.