“Two hundred and thirty-two enterprises and operations have been hit by avian influenza since early spring with nearly 50 million birds depopulated. This has caused USDA to reach out to almost 3,000 additional workers for APHIS,” USDA Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack has said.
Speaking at 'Avian Influenza Outbreak...Lessons Learned' Conference held July 28 - 29 , in Des Moines, Iowa, he said "we have expended, or likely will expend, in excess of $700 million dollars in the form of indemnification payments to producers, as well as the reasonable cost of disinfection and clean-up. We expect, and anticipate, that should avian influenza re-emerge in the fall, that number may obviously grow".
Best biosecurity possible
As part of his speech, Secretary Vilsack discussed preparing for the fall season. He focused on collaborating with the poultry industry and state and local governments, as well as on the need for the best biosecurity possible, incident command structures, the vaccination and indemnification process, and better communications among all parties.
Secretary Vilsack remarked, "Obviously, the best biosecurity job may not be good enough. There may well be a re-emergence; and if there is, we will be dealing again with the issue of depopulation."
Worst outbreak in modern history
Iowa Governor Terry Branstad spoke on the impact of avian influenza on the industry. He observed that the spring avian influenza outbreak was the worst animal disease outbreak in modern US agricultural history, with the largest economic impact and the largest number of animals affected.
Governor Branstad remarked that Iowa was one of the states hit hardest by the outbreak, commenting that "according to USDA's latest egg production report, Iowa egg production in June was down 44% from one year ago".
AI a world-wide issue
In his presentation titled, "H5N2 Outbreak: Where Are We... Where We Are Going," Dr John Clifford, chief veterinary officer for USDA APHIS, observed that avian influenza is a world-wide issue. He stressed the need to address issues in other parts of the world as they arise or be faced with continuing to have these types of introductions, or risk of introductions, in the US and around the world.
Dr Clifford also shared lessons learned regarding disposal and cleaning and disinfection methods as a result of the spring avian influenza outbreak, as well as discussed the results of the completed USDA epidemiology avian influenza report.