The latest outbreak of High Pathogen Avian Influenza in the USA and Canada in the spring of this year and the inability to avoid animal welfare catastrophes ultimately proves that new emergency response strategies are needed. Strategies that are based on taking away the source of infection instead of killing as many animals as possible within 24 hours, regardless the consequences.

The statement that “It’s possible that human infections with these viruses may occur” and that “these viruses have not spread easily to other people” is confusing. Humans can become infected without showing clinical signs. They can become the major carrier of the infection.

Especially during depopulation activities, viruses easily transmit through responders. Tasks like taking layers out of their cages and transport the birds manually through the narrow walkways between the cages, and disposal of infected animals are specific risks that need to be avoided. Simply switching of the electricity so that sick birds don’t have to be handled is not the solution.

Although humans are supposed to be less susceptible, they can become carrier of the virus. Only the highest level of biosecurity could prevent the transmission through the humans and materials that have been in direct contact with infected animals and materials.

Simply switching of the electricity so that sick birds don’t have to be handled is not the solution. Avoid killing animals is always the better option and in Germany, the discussion on the strategy based on neutralizing risks and is in the making. Avoiding situations demands a proactive role of the poultry industry.

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