In the event that HPAI prevention efforts fail to stop the introduction of disease into this country, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), in cooperation with Federal partners, have developed a National Response Plan for quickly and effectively responding to an outbreak.
The overall goal for an HPAI response is to detect, control, and eradicate the virus as quickly as possible so poultry facilities may return to normal production and the United States reclaims a disease free status.
- Detection involves sampling of poultry and rapid diagnosis. Samples are shipped to USDA-approved laboratories for diagnostic testing (RT-PCR and virus isolation). Positive samples are sent to the National Veterinary Services Laboratory (NVSL) for confirmation. NVSL can verify the presence of avian influenza, the specific viral subtype, and the pathogenicity. Detection of HPAI in wild birds or poultry does not signal the start of a human pandemic.
- Control is an important aspect in containing the disease and preventing further transmission. This entails surveillance, quarantine, and possible vaccination. Surveillance is used to determine the extent and location of the outbreak. Quarantine restricts the movement of animals, personnel, and equipment into the region, limiting the potential movement of virus and premise Zones are established to separate birds based on their infection/exposure status. Vaccination reduces the number of susceptible poultry; however, vaccination alone will not eradicate an infection and is generally used as a "firewall" to protect surrounding birds.
- The eradication process utilizes the 3 D’s: Depopulation, Disposal, and Decontamination. As a member of the OIE, the United States has agreed to abide by regulations that require a “stamping-out” policy for disease eradication. According to the OIE, “stamping-out” means that upon confirmation of HPAI, birds and other animals that are infected or suspected of being infected are humanely killed through depopulation methods. Disposal of infected materials ensures safe removal of disease and prevents contamination of ground, water, or air. Decontamination is a two step process that involves cleaning and disinfecting of equipment, housings, and personnel before a facility may reopen.
Once a premise has tested negative for the presence of avian influenza, poultry operations may start again. Biosecurity measures should be reviewed to determine how to prevent another avian influenza outbreak from occurring again.
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