Expert report sets out path to living with bird flu risk
Document summarises current situation and details how to manage threat of outbreaks.
Research priorities to help manage and prevent bird flu are highlighted in a report by an expert from the Global Academy of Agriculture and Food Systems.
The report, ‘Living with the risk of bird flu’, documents existing evidence on the disease, identifies knowledge gaps, and sets out how the UK poultry industry can learn to live with the risk of outbreaks.
The publication was commissioned by CIEL (Centre of Innovation Excellence in Livestock) and authored by Professor Lisa Boden and her team at the Global Academy of Agriculture and Food Systems.
It acknowledges the far-reaching negative impacts bird flu can have on animal and human health, as well as the potential consequences on international trade, food security and the environment.
The report offers a summary of the UK’s current bird flu situation, while raising awareness of how poultry keepers can make a difference in managing the disease, such as minimising contact with wild birds and keeping feed and water out of reach of wild birds and rodents.
The authors emphasise the importance of vigilance and early detection of the disease, such as checking for signs of an outbreak, such as lethargy, poor appetite and closed and runny eyes – and notifying vets of any concerns.
They also highlight the importance of disease control policies being adaptable to new scientific evidence, alongside the need for trusted links between science, industry and policy to help improve the speed of decision-making and subsequent actions.
The latest outbreak of bird flu has been severe and prolonged, and it is imperative that we understand how best to manage the threat of infection and ensure the industry has the best up-to-date knowledge to work with. I hope this report will support effective communication and best practice throughout the poultry industry in mitigating the disease.
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.
Research into production systems, vaccine development, advances in genomic sequencing, and new technologies to support rapid detection could all help manage this disease. Government support will continue to be required and enhanced to ensure that all outbreaks are handled promptly and competently.
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