The U.S. Department of Agriculture is working to prepare. Doctor T.J. Myers, with the agency’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, says they have better response plan ready. This spring, there were only four management teams in place.
Dr. Myers says, “We’ve increased that to five and we’ve also set a goal of hiring about 350 veterinarians, animal health technicians and administrative support to be on hand in case we need to deploy personnel.” The two-phase plan involves getting all poultry producers on board and then, speeding up the response process if bird flu is detected. That includes testing birds, depopulating flocks, facility clean-up and a faster compensation to producers. Myers says producers in Iowa and nationwide need to do their part.
“It’s really, really critical to make sure all poultry houses are doing everything they can to be as biosecure as possible so we don’t see introductions of highly-pathogenic avian influenza this fall,” he says. Since the bird flu outbreaks in Iowa and more than a dozen other states this spring, Myers says the U.S.D.A. has been working with producers to help them lock down their facilities.
He says, “We posted on a biosecurity self-assessment that industry members can look at and get a gauge of the kinds of thing they need to be thinking about whenever they look at biosecurity.” That information is on the U.S.D.A.’s Poultry and Egg Association website. Iowa was the nation’s worst-hit state by bird flu, with more than 70 outbreaks in 18 counties that resulted in the loss of more than 34 million birds.