The graphic above provides a brief overview of of the geographical spread and impact of HPAI H5 in the United States over last winter and spring. This was the largest outbreak of HPAI in US history, and by far the most expensive.
With fall upon us, there is great concern that avian flu will return on the wings of southbound migratory birds, and once again commercial and backyard poultry operations will be at risk.
Over the summer the USDA/APHIS has released an extraordinary amount of guidance (see Avian Influenza Disease) designed to familiarize American poultry farmers – both large and small – with the battle plan to combat the expected return of highly pathogenic Avian Influenza.
Previously we’ve looked at some of this guidance, including preventative advice (see HPAI: Battening Down The Biosecurity Hatches), Guidance For People With Backyard Poultry, Bird Enthusiasts & Hunters, and the Fall 2015 HPAI Preparedness & Response Plan.
But today we are looking what happens if you suspect HPAI infection in your flock, and if subsequently confirmed, how the USDA will respond.
The next two graphics are from the What to Expect if You Suspect (Factsheet).
The next graphic comes from the HPAI: A Guide to Help You Understand the Response Process (Infographic), that outlines the 10 basic steps of the USDA’s response plan.
The economic costs of last spring’s outbreak are still being calculated, but it easily runs in the billions. A repeat this winter could be devastating to the poultry industry, and damaging to the overall economy.
Prevention is therefore high on the list of priorities, closely followed by quick containment, and eradication of the disease.
Whether you raise birds commercially, have a backyard flock, or have some other contact with wild or domesticated birds, this year it would behoove you to keep close tabs on the USDA’s Avian flu guidance page, and to take the threat – and their advice – seriously.