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US considers vaccines to protect poultry from deadly bird flu

Chickens feed from a row of feed bins at C&A Farms in Fairmont, North Carolina June 10, 2014. Image taken on June 10, 2014.

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CHICAGO, April 4 (Reuters) – The US Department of Agriculture is looking at poultry as an option to protect against deadly bird flu, the agency’s chief veterinary officer said as the country faces its worst outbreak since 2015. Is.

Proponents say the vaccines could help keep poultry alive, prevent financial losses and control food costs, although shots would be too late to stop the current outbreak, which has hit commercial markets since February. 22 million chickens and turkeys in herds have been wiped out.

Previously, the United States has given up on vaccines, worried that importers will ban US poultry shipments because they cannot separate infected birds from vaccines. The United States is the world’s second largest exporter of poultry meat, a major egg producer, with shipments reaching $4.2 billion in 2020.

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However, the USDA’s Agricultural Research Service is investigating the potential of a vaccine that can be isolated from wild-type virus spread in poultry, Chief Veterinary Officer Rosemary Sifford said in an interview.

“We feel strongly that if we can develop a vaccine like this, it will have less business impact,” Sifford said. Researchers estimate it will take at least nine months to develop, she said.

Bird flu has affected poultry in Europe and Asia in addition to North America, and Sifford said the USDA is working with other countries on vaccine options. Trade has suffered, as importers such as China have halted imports from more than a dozen US states with the outbreak. read more

Although vaccines can protect poultry, some producers worry that they will be cost prohibitive for chickens raised for meat, which only live five to seven weeks.

Still the International Poultry Council, an industry group representing producers worldwide, is reviewing the possibilities, said Jim Sumner, a council member and president of the USA Poultry and Egg Export Council.

“We believe that in some extreme cases of severe outbreaks, perhaps vaccination should be considered as an option,” Sumner said.

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Reporting by Tom Polansek; Editing by David Gregorio

Our Standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

Nation World News Desk
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