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Bird Flu Build-up

— August 22, 2015

The USDA and its Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) is currently asking for help in stockpiling the vaccine for the Eurasian H5 strain of avian influenza. This is in preparation for a potential outbreak of the fast-spreading virus this autumn. The last such outbreak resulted in the destruction of over 48M birds in the U.S. The agency will release an environmental impact analysis next week that will assist in making the decision whether to use the vaccine or not.

Official in the U.S. Department of Agriculture are calling for proposal submissions for ways of increasing access to bird flu vaccines. In this instance, the increased access is for veterinarians and the intended recipients of the vaccines are the bird themselves. The agency hopes to have the bird flu build-up done before fall 2015.

These efforts are being taken to prepare for the possible return of the avian influenza virus, a particularly fast-spreading illness. The USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) has yet to actually decide whether it’s going to use the vaccine on actual birds. Rather, they want to be ready for another outbreak of the Eurasian H5 strain that occurred earlier this year.

This call stems from the criticism the agency faced over its handling of the last outbreak, during which over 48M birds were destroyed in the U.S. It was the country’s worst outbreak in poultry. The agency state in July that it intended to improve its responsiveness.

The chief U.S. veterinary officer, John Clifford, advised legislators that APHIS wanted the vaccines regardless of the fact that it hadn’t yet decided to actually use them. The idea being that it would be better to have them and not need them than vice-versa.

bfJohn Clifford, the chief U.S. veterinary officer, told lawmakers that the agency wanted to stockpile vaccines for poultry ahead of autumn, though officials had not decided whether to use them. The agency plans to release an environmental assessment soon that will examine possible impacts of vaccinating the nation’s birds.

The statement included this piece of logic:

“This assessment will look at two alternatives: approving vaccine use targeting EA H5 viruses or taking no action.”

All snark aside, that is exactly the choice before APHIS. The assessment will give them the information they need to make a risk analysis and plot a course of action.


USDA moves to build poultry vaccine stockpile for bird flu return

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