The proliferation of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) outbreaks across the world in the past two and a half decades is alarming, and the current H5N2 HPAI outbreak in the U.S. and Canada is the poultry industry’s wake-up call.
New poultry biosecurity protocols are needed – not just for this year’s crisis with the so-far 114 outbreaks of the H5N2 avian influenza strain involving 21.6 million birds – but to guard the poultry industry’s long-term survival.
The article, “Analysis: Avian influenza threatens US trade,” provides the chronology of a growing disease threat that the poultry industry must address. The threat is, in fact, a long-term one that requires more than raising biosecurity measures in the next six months. Every facet of the integrated poultry complex needs to be reimagined when it comes to biosecurity and, where necessary, reinvented.
Some steps may be painful and costly. In situations that production facilities cannot be biosecure where they are currently situated, due to proximity to neighboring poultry production or lakes with waterfowl, the facilities may need to be relocated. The evaluation must go well beyond shower-in and shower-out, protective clothing or foot dips.
In the future, financial institutions and investors may well calculate a poultry company’s biosecurity profile and epizootic track record in their lending and investment decisions. Perhaps it’s not too far-fetched to visualize loan covenants and interest-rate differentials for companies with marginal biosecurity.
As more than one industry expert has recently said, when it comes to biosecurity, it’s a new day in the poultry business.