Avian Influenza Advanced Biosecurity Program

Avian Influenza, also referred to as bird flu, is an extremely contagious and devastating disease, which causes high morbidity and mortality rates in poultry (predominantly chickens and turkeys). The consequences of Avian Influenza are immediate and financially severe. However, with thought and planning, a comprehensive Advanced Biosecurity Program can be implemented in order to minimise the impact of potentially catastrophic outbreaks.

Avian Influenza is caused by an orthomyxovirus (influenza virus). It can survive for considerable lengths of time outside of the host with birds being infected through contact with other birds, mechanical vectors such as vehicles and  equipment, and personnel travelling between farms, markets and abattoirs.

Outbreaks of Avian Influenza tend to be seasonal, and coincide with the late autumn and early spring migratory patterns of wild birds, particularly waterfowl.

Biosecurity is the only real way of stopping the spread of the Avian Influenza virus onto and around a poultry farm site. Producers need to achieve the highest possible levels of biosecurity, leveraged by good buy-in and compliance from management, their staff and their suppliers.

The main route of transmission onto poultry production facilities has been strongly linked to transportation of infected live birds, contaminated carcasses or litter in vehicles, and has highlighted the importance of biosecurity protocols targeting vehicle cleaning and disinfection. Poultry producers may have difficulty in justifying this precaution, as time must be spent ensuring that vehicles are adequately disinfected, which may have a financial impact. However, the risk of contaminated vehicles or associated equipment with infectious bacterial and viral particles, such as Avian Influenza, could be extremely hazardous to the health of livestock and ultimately the financial performance of a farm.

ADVANCED BIOSECURITY IS THE ANSWER

For biosecurity to be effective against the threat of Avian Influenza, there must be good planning, good procedures, good training and good tools.

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