Fighting the temptation

01-02-2007 | |

Over the past few years, many in poultry industry have lost sleep over highly pathogenic bird flu, either because it arrived unexpectedly within their country’s borders or because they worried it would somehow make its way there. The consequences have certainly been devastating for many as entire flocks have been culled, international markets closed their doors and local consumption plummeted. (Comments 3)

Over the past few years, many in poultry industry have lost sleep over highly pathogenic free of infection, but even then there is no guarantee that the avian disease will not somehow cross the natural barriers that have so far protected these countries.
See no evil hear no evil
With all that is at stake, it might be very tempting for companies and national animal/public health agencies to refrain from reporting an outbreak, in the hope that they might somehow be able to prevent its further spread and hope that it quietly goes away without anyone having to know exactly what happened.
The heavy consequences of silence
However, experience has shown time and time again that the consequences to this course of action, in the long run, are much worse and that the possibility of limiting an outbreak is indeed very small. If at any time it is discovered that anyone in the production chain hid information from others, whoever does so can have no hope of ever again gaining the trust of the people they had misled.
Be prepared – the only course of action
Therefore, everyone involved must fight this temptation at all costs. It certainly won’t put your mind at ease, since the problem will still be there. But there are options that might limit the damage of an outbreak and they can be implemented ahead of time. The scout motto “Be prepared” takes on a whole other meaning here.
For example, in order to limit a decline in poultry consumption after an outbreak, campaigns explaining the low risks of contracting the disease and the proper measures to be taken can be coordinated jointly by industry groups and government agencies. Another possible initiative is for industry groups to pressure their governments to implement the correct mitigation procedures and to have a proper action plan in case of an outbreak.
It’s only by working together that any serious effort will have the desired effect. And although in the short term things might look grim, in the long run the perceived transparency and cooperation will bear many ripe, sweet fruits of labour.

Related links: