Enhanced preparedness essential for future protection against AI

A leading US Department of Agriculture (USDA) official has challenged the poultry industry to keep improving its “preparedness” against the risk that Avian Influenza (AI) will strike the sector again in the future.

Putting the economic loss of the 2015 AI outbreak in the US at the equivalent of more than £2.5 billion, the emergency coordinator for USDA APHIS, Dr Melburn Stephens, gave delegates at a recent industry seminar in Nashville his personal AI surveillance and monitoring check-list, while urging them to adopt the same approach.

Addressing the industry’s obvious desire to prevent or at least reduce future outbreaks, Dr Stephens called for producers to focus on:

  • enhanced preparedness,
  • improved and streamlined response capabilities, and,
  • preparing for the potential use of AI vaccines.

Dr Stephens also pointed out that the 2015 outbreak had resulted in US producers losing 16 trade markets, including key outlets such as China, Russia and South Korea.

The seminar, organised by the US Poultry & Egg Association (USPOULTRY), also addressed the need for production sustainability, largely through a presentation by Keystone Foods’ global head of animal health and welfare, Dr Ken Opengart.

“Sustainability is a continually evolving concept and driving force for change in many organisations,” he said, adding that Keystone was currently applying the following “Four Pillars” to its own business model:

  • Sustaining the Planet.
  • Contributing to Communities.
  • Supporting Our People.
  • Creating Shared Value.

Dr Opengart also highlighted the importance for businesses to “message sustainability” whenever improvements are secured.

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