New Study Reveals: Bird Flu Vaccinations Alone Won’t Cut It, Biosecurity is Key!

"International Egg Commission stresses the importance of biosecurity measures in bird flu vaccination programs"

The International Egg Commission (IEC) has released a paper that highlights the importance of using vaccines as an additional layer of protection on top of existing biosecurity measures, rather than a replacement, in the fight against avian influenza (bird flu). The paper, titled ‘High Pathogenicity Avian Influenza in Layers: Considerations and Essential Components for Vaccination and Surveillance’, aims to provide guidance to countries considering vaccination as a means to combat the disease. The IEC has stressed the importance of using high-quality vaccines, updating vaccine antigens without requiring a full re-registration of vaccines, and administering vaccines in line with the manufacturer’s instructions. Regular monitoring of vaccinated flocks for immune response to vaccination is also essential. The paper also explores how to conduct infection surveillance within vaccinated flocks, allowing for continued trade of poultry and poultry products as stipulated by the World Organisation for Animal Health (WOAH) Terrestrial Animal Health Code.

The global egg industry representative has said that the paper was needed due to the continuous threat that high pathogenicity avian influenza (HPAI) poses to the global egg industry and wider food supply chain. The IEC’s avian influenza global expert group developed the paper, which explains the advantages of vaccination against the disease, as well as ways to overcome potential barriers to vaccination. The chair of the avian influenza global expert group, Ben Dellaert, has stated that the development of this new paper will support countries considering vaccination as an additional tool for prevention and emergency management of HPAI in layer hens, to establish and implement a successful vaccination and surveillance strategy.

The paper also stresses the importance of using a cassette system to allow vaccines to be updated, giving individual birds the correct number of doses over their lifetime, and continually reviewing the programme’s effectiveness. The IEC has emphasised that vaccination can be an important additional tool for preventing and managing HPAI, alongside robust biosecurity. The paper defines the essential components of an effective bird flu vaccination programme, including the use of a national or regional vaccine bank, vaccine testing in birds under field conditions, and regular monitoring of vaccinated flocks for immune response to vaccination.

The global poultry industry has been facing unprecedented levels of avian influenza in recent months, making the development of this new paper particularly timely. The IEC has stated that the paper will support countries in implementing effective vaccination strategies to protect the industry from the devastating consequences of HPAI. The paper’s emphasis on using vaccines as an additional layer of protection on top of existing biosecurity measures is an important reminder that vaccines alone cannot provide complete protection against avian influenza. However, when used in conjunction with other measures, vaccines can be an important tool in the fight against the disease.

Categories: Agriculture