Over the summer, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) updated two avian flu response plan documents that should be required reading for the U.S. poultry industry. For most of us, it’s not much fun reading through hundreds of pages of the Foreign Animal Disease Preparedness and Response Plan, but there’s just no advisable shortcut to reading this yourself. It’s that important.

Think a decision by APHIS to vaccinate poultry is cut-and-dried, yes or no? It is not, and the avian flu response plans detail why.

The documentation, among other things, explains how vaccination for highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) would work, should it be employed. For example, there are two distinct purposes of emergency vaccination: One path of vaccination leads to the killing (or depopulation) of flocks; the other is vaccination aimed at protecting susceptible poultry from infection so as to preserve flocks’ usefulness.

Other sections in the response plans explain important differences in quarantine (or containment) zones and compartments that could make a big difference in what happens to your business if HPAI breaks out in your state or county.

Here are just a few things included in the APHIS HPAI response plans:

  • Decision tree for emergency vaccination in domestic poultry
  • Movement restrictions on vaccinated poultry
  • Disposition of vaccinated poultry
  • HPAI continuity of business planning

These response plans could well determine whether your poultry business and industry survives any recurrence of what already has been its worst high-path avian flu outbreak. If you have responsibility of any kind in the poultry industry, you should have a working knowledge of the plans and strategies that would be employed to stop the next HPAI outbreak.

Following are links to the two HPAI response plans:

  1. Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza Response Plan: The Red Book 


  2. NAHEMS GUIDELINES: Vaccination for Contagious Disease Appendix C: Vaccination for High Pathogenicity Avian Influenza