Analysis: Can global poultry trade coexist with avian flu?

Animal health officials are tackling highly pathogenic birdflu trade issues at the International Conference on Avian Influenza and PoultryTrade.

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Can international trade in poultry and eggs coexist with widespread highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) in the world?
The International Conference on Avian Influenza and Poultry Trade convened June 22 in Baltimore with the following question by Dr. Jere Dick, associate administrator, Animal and Plant Inspection Service (APHIS):

“Given the facts about highly pathogenic avian influenza, including the reality that at present we cannot eradicate it from this planet, how do we ensure that international poultry trade remain[s] vigorous, open and based on science?”

Animal health officials from 35 countries tackle international trade issues

Around 200 people are grappling with the trade issues surrounding HPAI as they attend the three-day conference organized jointly by USDA-APHIS and the poultry industry. They include more than a dozen chief veterinary officers and many other animal health officials from more than 35 countries.

Trade zoning pushed by U.S. officials

Amid all the epidemiological challenges of poultry flocks being struck by highly pathogenic avian influenza in the United States and the operational tasks of managing the disease control effort, keeping the international trade of poultry and eggs flowing is a perplexing challenge.

The U.S. organizers and delegates are stressing science and following international poultry trading protocols in a situation where political considerations come to the forefront in trade bans. One of the chief points being pressed is the need to follow World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) guidelines for zoning where trade restrictions are imposed due to an HPAI outbreak occurring.

Dick thanked the U.S. trading partners “who have zoned the United States for HPAI at this time based on the extensive information that we have shared about detections in various states and localities, and the stringent methods we have taken to control and eradicate the disease in those areas."

“The United States is firmly committed to following the guidelines that the OIE has established for trade in live poultry and poultry products as it relates to avian influenza, including HPAI,” he said.

Recommendations to OIE to come from meeting

“We hope that the top-ranked professionals assembled here will synthesize these insights into recommendations for mitigating the risks that avian influenza holds for trade. We plan to present these recommendations along with a summary of our proceedings to the OIE and to international stakeholders,” he said.

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