IMPROVED communication, earlier detection and continued government support will be needed in the short-term to help farmers tackle bird flu.
A new report from the Centre for Innovation in Livestock (CIEL) gives an overview of how avian influenza (AI) is managed in the UK and ways improvements might be made.
The research was commissioned to consider ways of ‘learning to live’ with the risk of AI, with ‘one viewpoint’ being that it will remain a permanent threat.
The report’s take-home messages:
- The risk of AI is here to stay
- Industry, government, and small-scale producers need to collaborate to ensure up-to-date and accurate information is disseminated to all involved
- Government support will continue to be required and enhanced to ensure that all outbreaks are handled promptly and competently
- More research is needed to continue work which is underway on vaccine development, supported by international agreement on availability, distribution and use
- Research into production systems and AI is required
Mark Young, head of innovation at CIEL, said: “The UK experienced the worst outbreak of Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) in 2022, both in terms of frequency and severity.
“With the disease showing no signs of abating, it’s vital the industry considers how we can live with the risk of disease; how we address some of the challenges the industry faces when dealing with the ongoing threat of bird flu, possible prevention and control methods, and the role of science and innovation in helping to tackle the disease.”
“To date, strict biosecurity measures have been recommended for all keepers of poultry to help control the spread of disease,” added Dr Young.
“However, there is a significant degree of variability in biosecurity implementation across the sector due to different perceptions of risk and awareness of the regulation and guidance available among all poultry keepers.
“For future containment of the disease, strict biosecurity is needed on all types of holding, and vigilance and early detection of the disease has to be a shared responsibility for poultry producers irrespective of holding size or production system.”
‘Living with the risk of bird flu’ was commissioned by CIEL and authored by Professor Lisa Boden and her team at the University of Edinburgh’s Global Academy of Agriculture and Food Systems.