By Jack Shere, DVM, Ph.D., USDA/APHIS Deputy Administrator, Veterinary Services, U.S. Chief Veterinary Officer
Five-time World Series champion Derek Jeter once said, “Defense usually doesn’t make many headlines, but it goes a long way to winning baseball games." NBA great Michael Jordan had a different take, saying “Talent wins games, but teamwork and intelligence wins championships."
Defense and teamwork. These are also the pillars of success to protecting our domestic poultry flock from Avian Flu, particularly Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI). Because the risk of introduction never goes away, the strong biosecurity practices present on most poultry operations help stop infectious disease concerns before they start. Now more than two years removed from the significant HPAI outbreak in 2014-15, the confirmed HPAI cases earlier this year reminded us all to be vigilant in our defense and our commitment to work together when an HPAI challenge arises.
Here are biosecurity best practices that show how we can work together – even when a threat isn’t currently making news – to Defend the Flock from avian influenza:
- Protect Your Poultry: Know what goes in and out of your farm and control the movements of anything that could bring in damaging disease. Anything that comes into the farm needs to be properly cleaned and disinfected. Better yet, keep separate the boots, clothes, tools and other items you use with the poultry from those used outside of the facility.
- Keep a Close Eye on Your Birds: Sick poultry shows many of the same signs that sick people do. They decrease their activity, get quiet, many even seem depressed. Early detection of avian flu or other infectious disease helps keep a small problem from becoming a significant crisis. The sooner you can identify a concern, the sooner your animal health team and our animal health team can work together to contain it.
- Refresh Your Biosecurity Knowledge: Even the great football players continue to study their playbooks. Remind yourself and your employees about best practices of biosecurity on a regular basis to keep your head in the game. USDA-APHIS recently launched a suite of resources as part of the Defend the Flock awareness program to help you and everyone who impacts your facilities' biosecurity practices.
- Communicate Early and Often: Communicate with USDA-APHIS and other state animal health officials if you have questions or concerns about the health of your birds.
Biosecurity is a team sport, and together we can work to defend our flock from infectious disease.
More Defend the Flock information and new resources will be regularly made available through the USDA-APHIS website at https://www.aphis.usda.gov/animalhealth/defendtheflock.