To avoid another disastrous outbreak of avian flu, the USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service on Friday released a preparedness and planning report outlining its strategies to stave off the flu as temperatures turn colder.
The bird flu, which was first identified last winter, affected more than 48.8 million birds and 21 States before the final detection on June 17. APHIS characterizes the outbreak as the worst in U.S. history.
"The incredible scope of this outbreak presented many challenges to Federal, state and industry resources and clearly identified areas where greater coordination, preparation and communication were needed," APHIS said.
"While response operations continue in the Midwest, APHIS and its partners have used the time since the last positive detection to plan for the return of the disease, using a hypothetical worst case scenario in an effort to prepare."
APHIS reported that its planning incorporates experience from last winter and spring, epidemiologic studies, and feedback from state partners and academia.
The Fall 2015 HPAI Influenza Preparedness and Response Plan organizes information on preparatory activities, policy decisions and updated strategy documents into four key areas:
• preventing or reducing future outbreaks;
• enhancing preparedness;
• improving and streamlining response capabilities; and
• preparing for the potential use of AI vaccines.
The report includes an updated biosecurity self-assessment for the poultry industry, streamlined and updated procedures for providing indemnity and other payments, a draft vaccine use strategy and many other items of interest to the Agency's stakeholders. \
"APHIS is keenly aware of the significant impact the spring outbreak has had on all parties—poultry producers, allied industries, federal and state governments, and the American consumer," the agency said in a statement.
"As we near the beginning of the fall season, APHIS is confident that its surveillance programs in commercial and wild birds, which are the strongest in the world, will enable us to detect the disease early."