US poultry industry starts nervous recovery

By Michelle Perrett

- Last updated on GMT

The US government claims to have developed a bird flu vaccine that is 100% effective for chickens
The US government claims to have developed a bird flu vaccine that is 100% effective for chickens

Related tags U.s. state Us Poultry

The US poultry industry seems to be recovering, but avian influenza (AI) could rear its head again, Jim Sumner, president of the USA Poultry & Egg Export Council (USAPEEC), has told GlobalMeatNews.

“We are in the lull between the storms,”​ he said. “Things are pretty quiet now and we have not had any new outbreaks for about a month, but that was expected during the very warm weather as it kills the virus.”

The virus has wiped out 48m birds in US states, including Arkansas, California, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oregon, South Dakota, Washington and Wisconsin. 

Sumner said a number of states have had their restrictions lifted and, in some areas, turkey farms have started to use poults to start production again. He also said that countries had started to ease their restriction on US imports.

Last week GlobalMeatNews​ revealed that 30 countries had made changes to their requirements for imports from the US since June in the wake of the crisis.

'Industry concerned'

“The industry is obviously concerned about what is going to happen in the fall around October when the migratory birds head south,”​ Sumner added.  

He revealed the government, along with some companies, have been developing an effective vaccine and stockpiling. This new vaccine is reputed to be 100% effective on chickens unlike the previous vaccine that was only 60% effective. 

He said it was the understanding of USAPEEC that the government does not plan to release it unless there is a “catastrophic situation”​.

However, he said: “Things are moving back to some semblance of normal but the broiler industry in the US is most concerned, because they have not been directly affected by the outbreak and broilers are the most exported of all of our poultry.

​They are concerned about vaccinations, because they are afraid this may impose further restrictions.​ Our industry is preparing for the worst, but hoping for the best.”

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