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USDA planning for return of avian flu

Dr. John Clifford with USDA-APHIS testifies at the avian flu hearing in Washington.

Dr. John Clifford with USDA-APHIS testifies at the avian flu hearing in Washington.

The USDA’s chief veterinarian, Dr. John Clifford, says the agency is preparing for the likelihood that the avian influenza virus will return this fall.

“What we’re planning is a worst-case scenario that every major poultry-producing state in this country, for layers, broilers and turkeys, could be affected,” Clifford says.

Speaking at a Senate Ag Committee hearing, Clifford said the veterinary services division of the Animal Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) has hired more than 450 temporary workers, including 300 veterinary first-responders, in preparation for possible outbreaks this fall.

“We’re also developing a potential vaccine strategy,” Clifford says. “Should we decide to use vaccines to address the outbreak, we’ll have the systems in place to do so.”

But Clifford says there are still many questions about the effectiveness of vaccines as well as industry concerns about the potential loss of export markets if vaccines were to be used.

AUDIO: Excerpt from the Senate Ag Committee’s avian flu hearing–Dr. John Clifford and Dr. David Swayne, laboratory director at the Southeast Poultry Research Laboratory, USDA-ARS

 

 

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