Poultry industry divided over bird flu vaccine

By Michelle Perrett

- Last updated on GMT

US poultry producers are divided over the use of a vaccine to combat bird flu
US poultry producers are divided over the use of a vaccine to combat bird flu

Related tags: Bird flu, Vaccine, Usda

Chicken and turkey farmers and producers in the US are split over whether a vaccine should be introduced to fight the outbreak of bird flu that has killed millions of birds. 

The news comes as the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) confirmed it would not be introducing a vaccine as the current one on offer is not effective enough.

In a statement the USDA said: “The vaccine currently available offers just 60% effectiveness in chickens, leaving four in 10 birds unprotected. The vaccine’s effectiveness in turkeys is still being studied.”

The USDA has confirmed that bird flu has seen chicken and turkey producers lose more than 46 million birds since early March, mostly in Iowa and Minnesota.

Toby Moore, vice president of communications for the Poultry and Egg Export Council, told GlobalMeatNews​: “The USDA said there is some very strong concerns about what would happen to the poultry and egg trade if vaccination was utilised.

“Some trading partners said that they would stop all imports of US poultry products if USDA moved ahead with the vaccination programme.”

However, Moore said the Poultry and Egg Export Council had not taken a formal stance on the vaccinations as it is an “all feather”​ organisation representing a range of suppliers.

“There is a difference of opinion within the industry between the producers about whether to vaccinate,”​ he added.
Moore said recent reports had seen the number of bird flu incidents declining, partly because of the improvement in weather as the flu prefers a colder environment.

The USDA said it will continue to support efforts to develop a more effective vaccine, assist poultry producers with biosecurity measures, compensate producers for losses as well as taking aggressive action to maintain open markets for US poultry.

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