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Dr. Charles Hatcher said he would prefer to depopulate in the poultry house or under cover on farms where an avian influenza outbreak appears. | Virginia Department of Environmental Quality
on December 18, 2017

Avian flu biosecurity plan is key to rapid response

The US avian flu outbreak of 2017 reinforced the need for site-specific biosecurity plans for poultry farms with approved emergency response plans.

No poultry farm is immune to an avian influenza outbreak, therefore, having a plan to deal with such a situation is crucial, explained Dr. Charles Hatcher, state veterinarian with the Tennessee Department of Agriculture at the 2017 Live Production and Welfare Seminar in Nashville, Tennessee.

Read the entire report about avian influenza and biosecurity exclusively in the December issue of WATT PoultryUSA

“You can never do too much planning,” Hatcher said.

A lapse in biosecurity practices is the most likely way for viruses to enter the house. Each premise must have its own site-specific plan and conduct internal audits of facilities and their practices regularly. The state of Tennessee will be requiring producers to have a National Poultry Improvement Plan (NPIP) compliant biosecurity plan by the end of October 2017.

The southern outbreak

Tennessee's first case of a highly pathogenic strain of H7N9 avian influenza was announced on March 5, and it affected a broiler breeder flock in Lincoln County. A flock of chickens at a commercial broiler breeder operation in Giles County, Tennessee, tested positive for low pathogenic H7N9 avian influenza. The state’s second avian influenza case in 2017 was confirmed on March 8.

On March 14, the Alabama Department of Agriculture and Industries (ADAI) issued a stop movement order for certain poultry in the state, after three potential cases of avian influenza were identified. It halted movement of birds to poultry shows, swap meets, flea markets and poultry auctions.

The possible infections occurred in three north Alabama counties that border Tennessee, where the two cases of avian influenza were previously confirmed. These cases were a backyard flock of layers, a commercial broiler breeder flock and a backyard flock of guinea fowl, which were confirmed as positive for low pathogenic avian flu on March 10, 14 and 15, respectively.

In Alabama on March 16 and 17, cases of a low pathogenic strain of the disease were confirmed in a commercial poultry breeding operation in Pickens County and a backyard flock in Madison County. Both detections were not related to highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) detections elsewhere in the country. 

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