Background 5 commentsupdate:Mar 9, 2016

Containing AI with fingers crossed

The poultry business is a professional global industry. Nothing new, we all know that. Everyone involved does his utmost to contribute to raising and keeping healthy and productive birds. Thus producing good food and earning a living.

But poultry is livestock. And despite all professionalism and stringent biosecurity measures, sometimes a severe disease outbreak can strike the industry. Like in mid-November in Germany, where highly pathogenic AI H5N8 was found on a turkey farm. Immediate action was taken by the authorities; birds culled, transport restrictions, keeping poultry inside, veterinary control measures and so on. Only one week later the same happened in The Netherlands. Also the same immediate action was taken. Then it struck a duck farm in the UK... Same story.

At a certain stage it looked like the disease wasn't spreading any further and that economic losses would be kept within limits. But that euphoria seemed too early. In the Netherlands, it reached a couple of more farms and the already stringent measures needed to be prolonged and even extended, but also solutions to not fully block the entire industry were taken, like dividing the country into four regions with a different 'health status' and creating transport corridors.

'The fire' is still not officially under control, but in the past 12 days, no more new outbreaks have been registered in Western Europe, so fingers crossed and let's hope for the best.

Most likely, wild birds have been the conveyors of the virus. At least it was found in droppings of ducks, in the field nearby an infected farm. However, try and keep that away, no chance!

But the integrated approach and immediate action of all parties involved, seems to have kept the disease under control, no question about that.

Animal rights activists tend to benefit from these incidents to blame the poultry business for their practices. Luckily with only limited success. They don't seem to understand that there's no other way than keeping poultry in a professional way to be efficient and productive and also be better suited to keep diseases under control! Of course stringent biosecurity measures should never be neglected. The recent outbreaks of this avian disease have made that crystal clear again.

There are never any guarantees that such a disease outbreak can be kept away. Of course it can always happen again. It is and has been the integrated approach and strength of all parties involved, to tackle the AI outbreak and not let it spread any further. Well done everyone!

World Poultry


  • Abdelrahman magdy

    up to now really well done every one

  • G G Arzey

    You wrote - 'Most likely, wild birds have been the conveyors of the virus. At least it was found in droppings of ducks, in the field nearby an infected farm. However, try and keep that away, no chance!'

    I bag to differ. While keeping droppings of wild ducks away from poultry farms is indeed an impossibility, all 3 index cases in the 3 countries were indoor kept birds and while challenging, it should be possible to keep ducks droppings away from indoor poultry through effective monitoring of the biosecurity on the farm. This includes vigilance beyond the farm gate.

  • Henry Niman

    The H5N2 in Fraser Valley is H5N8 with three North American wild bird genes, including N2. The H5 in both is Fujian clade 2.3.4. The spread is all about wild birds

  • Henry Niman

    Wild birds are not victims

  • G G Arzey

    I would expect the founder of Recombionics to use a less emotive language. Victims and perpetrators'' are not an appropriate description for millenniums old natural phenomena.

    My point was not about the roil of wild waterfowl but rather the fact that in all 3 countries the index cases were indoor poultry (including breeders!) which suggests slack/ineffective biosecurity.

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