Recent findings and perspectives on the last major outbreak of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) in the U.S. and how lessons learned can applied in the future, were recently shared by Dr. Caroline Cardona, Pomeroy Chair in Avian Health, University of Minnesota in an interview with Egg Industry Insight.
What has the layer industry learned since the 2015 HPAI outbreak?
Cardona emphasized the power of transparency between poultry companies.
“Transparency between different poultry production industries must happen to manage an outbreak. During an outbreak, it’s important to share your movement
s information across all species of poultry. It's essential for everyone to know what's going on around them.”
Cardona referenced a 2015 Iowa case study concerning factors associated with HPAI on commercial pullet and layer farms. Key risk factors identified were rendering or garbage trucks coming near the barns, dead-bird disposal located near barns and visits by third party employees.
“Garbage pickup employees’ paths onsite must be outside the perimeter buffer area. Dead, wild birds often end up in the trash in communities, meaning that when a garbage truck comes to your farm, they could be bringing the virus in,” she explained.
“Showers for third-party visitors can become a risk factor if there's not a culture of showering at the facility or if showers are not maintained properly. Bringing large numbers of people into a biosecurity system meant to handle only a few could potentially result in exposure.”
Cardona went on to explain that there are now more veterinarians specializing in avian influenza or other diseases working with layer companies to improve biosecurity practices and identify the signs of sickness in birds.
“Veterinarians provide expertise and commitment to disease prevention strategies, which helps everybody better prepare to deal with catastrophic outbreaks,” she stated.
Additionally, she noted that the layer industry gained understanding regarding varying mortality rates or slower spreading viruses in differing flocks.
“We know that pullets tend to have slower spreading viruses, meaning that there will be a lower mortality rate, so infections could look different in pullets as opposed to egg laying hens,” concluded Cardona.
Commercially, seven U.S. states have confirmed a total of 16 poultry flocks in this year’s outbreak, two being layer flocks.
View our continuing coverage of the global avian influenza situation.