Avian flu testing not affected by supply chain issues

To date, supply chain disruptions have not been a problem as the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service test wild birds for avian influenza.

Roy Graber Headshot
Skillful veterinarian uses microscope in animal hospital
Skillful veterinarian uses microscope in animal hospital
(KostiantynVoitenko | Bigstock)

Since the COVID-19 pandemic hit, supply chain disruptions have impacted so many industries on so many levels.

Some of those are things we may not ordinarily think of. Luckily, one astute attendee of a webinar hosted on January 18 by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), recognized that as highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) has surfaced in the United States, that supplies to test birds for the virus could possibly be impacted by supply chain issues.

Since June, APHIS has been conducting a wild bird surveillance program to test wild birds for the highly pathogenic variant of the disease. To date, about 12,000 birds have been tested, and there are plans to test about 3,000 more through March.

That’s a lot of tests, and a lot of supplies will be necessary to conclude those tests. Fortunately, Dr. Rosemary Sifford, the chief veterinary officer for APHIS, said the testing of birds has so far been immune to supply chain challenges.

“I can say that we do not have any current supply chain issues with testing birds. We continue to monitor our abilities to order and obtain the supplies that we need to make sure that we can keep up with the testing needs that we anticipate,” said Sifford.

That is good to hear, especially since that testing program recently unveiled three confirmed cases of HPAI in wild birds. Two of those cases were in Colleton County, South Carolina, while the other was in Hyde County, North Carolina. All three of those cases were confirmed in hunter-harvested birds.

With those cases, as well as additional confirmed cases in the Canadian province of Newfoundland and Labrador, Sifford knows it is likely that more cases will be discovered, and that the U.S. poultry industry needs to be on alert. And these tests will help the industry understand how prevalent the virus is in North America.

View our continuing coverage of the global avian influenza situation.

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