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USDA researching vaccine for avian flu

Avian flu has cost poultry farmers more than $6 million since March

By Diego Flammini, Farms.com

As poultry farms across the United States battle with bird flu and its eventual aftermath, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) is working on a vaccine to help in the fight against the deadly illness.

The vaccine would be targeted at the H5N2 virus and other virus associated with the H5 strain of the avian flu. Since March, bird flu has cost poultry producers in America’s Midwest upwards of $6.7 million.

People involved with the USDA said H5N2 could pose issues for the poultry sector for many years. More than two million turkeys have already been destroyed as a result of the disease, while on Monday an egg operation in Iowa with 3.8 million hens confirmed the bird flu and four more turkey farms discovered the disease on Tuesday.

In Athens, Georgia, the USDA’s Southeast Poultry Research Lab is developing the seed strain – which acts like a pure sample of the virus that could be used as the baseline in producing a vaccine. If the animal experiments scheduled to start in May are successful and the USDA decides to produce the vaccine, it would be produced by the private sector.

There are some issues the USDA and other officials will have to wrestle with should the vaccine be introduced including knowing which poultry would receive the vaccine and whether or not as a result of the vaccine, imports of American poultry are restricted or barred.

Join the conversation and tell us your thoughts about the USDA possibly developing a vaccine to combat H5N2 avian flu. If the vaccine proved successful would it be something you’d consider using on your farm?


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