A vaccine has been developed that tested 100 percent effective in protecting chickens from H5N2 avian influenza, U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack told the House Agriculture Committee during a hearing on July 22. Testing is also being conducted on its effectiveness for vaccinating turkeys from the virus, Vilsack said.
Should the avian influenza vaccine prove effective with turkeys, the USDA would like to get it licensed for widespread production and will seek funding from the federal Office of Management and Budget to create a nationwide supply of the vaccine, according to a WANE report.
“Hopefully we’ll be able to get a lot of folks working collaboratively together and we stockpile enough so that if this does hit and hits us hard we’re in a position to respond quickly,” Vilsack said.
Vilsack’s comments follow an announcement made on June 3 from the USDA, stating that it was not ready to approve the use of avian influenza vaccines as the efficacy of vaccine options available at the time was not sufficient. However, the agency did state that it would continue to work with researchers and vaccine companies as they continue to develop other vaccine options.
According to industry sources, some poultry producers, primarily in the egg and turkey industries, have been asking for approval from the USDA to use avian influenza vaccines as part of their eradication efforts.
However, others do not favor a vaccination program because of possible implications on trade.
Jim Sumner, president of the USA Poultry & Egg Export Council (USAPEEC), told the Associated Press that many countries have a strict policy of refusing to accept meat from countries where a vaccine is used because it can be difficult to discern through testing whether birds were infected with an active virus or were vaccinated.