bird flu

Bird flu is spreading at an astonishing rate, forcing more executions

On Saturday, May 14, Pennsylvania saw its thirteenth flock infected with bird flu. Officials have confirmed that more than 83,000 birds have been exposed, and experts believe that the vast majority will be culled as a result of the suspected infection.

The state has already lost 3.8 million birds to bird flu over the past three months, prompting a call for emergency help. Over the past five months, the H5N1 virus has continued to spread throughout the United States and around the world, breaking records set by previous strains of the disease.

Since the virus was discovered in the United States in January of this year, more than 37 million captive and wild birds in 34 states and 352 flocks have been exposed to bird flu, according to the USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service. . In the past five weeks alone, the virus has been linked to 128 new poultry outbreaks in 11 other countries, including Bulgaria, Canada, Germany, Hungary, Japan, South Korea, Mexico, the Netherlands, Nigeria, Poland and the United Kingdom.

Officials from the World Organization for Animal Health’s Global Animal Health Information System also noted that the disease was beginning to spread to “unusual hosts” such as cats, dogs, tigers, gray seals, port seals, red foxes and raccoons. As a result, scientists are rushing to develop a bird flu vaccine for poultry, which has long been opposed by the public health community, fearing that the vaccine could cause another, more deadly virus capable of infecting large parts of the population.

Even if vaccinating poultry was a viable option, it would not prevent mass culling during a global outbreak of avian influenza. At best, vaccinations may prevent birds from becoming infected but will not prevent vaccinated birds from spreading the virus undetected.

“Vaccines can help, but they are not the golden bullet,” Ron Fouchier, a virologist at Erasmus University Medical Center, tells Science. As vaccine development continued, France, Canada, and the United States had to cull record numbers of birds.

Farmers use a variety of different methods to exclude animals, some more humane than others. But during bird flu outbreaks, investigators say more humane methods of execution are often overlooked.

The US Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) has approved a number of methods for culling infected or potentially infected birds. The first method is to release large amounts of foam – such as the foam used for firefighting – at thousands of birds to cut off the air supply. The birds eventually suffocate to death, as bubbles of foam rise above their heads and choke them. This method is considered “effective” for culling birds housed in industrial processes where thousands of birds, such as turkeys, can be crammed into confined spaces.

However, since the foam cannot rise higher than two to three feet or be used when the weather is cold, this method of culling is not able to efficiently kill chickens kept in stacked cages and crowded cages inside barns. In such cases, the USDA recommends closing the pens and piping CO2 into the enclosure housing the chickens, thus culling the birds by cutting off their air supply.

Foam and carbon dioxide release in tubes can be relatively expensive and labor-intensive, so when large numbers of birds are killed in time, a method called ventilator shutdown (VSD) has become popular. Here, the birds are packed into pens or enclosures and the air supply is closed off, causing the birds’ body temperature to rise to lethal levels.

The VSD method is often supplemented with additional heat or carbon dioxide, which is referred to as VSD+. Then the birds die from heat stroke and/or lack of oxygen. Recent studies sponsored by industrial agriculture and conducted at the University of North Carolina have shown that chickens die a slow and painful death 1.5 hours after VSD, while chickens exposed to VSD plus additional exposure to heat and VSD plus carbon dioxide die after 54 minutes. And 11.5 minutes straight.

While VSD is considered “effective,” it goes against the American Veterinary Medical Association’s (AMVA) dictum that all approved culling methods are as pain-free and distress-free as possible. Petitions to AMVA to reclassify the VSD as “not recommended” in 2021 are still pending.

Currently, VSD and VSD+ are still practiced across farms in the US In April 2022, state and local prosecutors in Iowa dismissed criminal charges against Rembrandt Enterprises for strangling its flock of 5.3 million chickens via VSD, stating that the VSD method Used based on USDA recommendations.

Citing distress to animals during VSD, VSD+ and foam-based killing, these methods are illegal in Europe and the UK, where birds are exposed to gases, either by filling pens and pens with carbon dioxide and preferably piped in additional gases such as argon to suffocate her.

However, globally, there is no consensus among farmers or scientists on the most efficient, cost-effective and humane way to quickly cull large numbers of animals. In labor-rich countries like India, labour-intensive methods of execution, such as chicken neck squeezing or cervical dislocation, are still practiced.

In January 2020, 35,000 ducks were tied up in bags and burned to death in southern India as part of the culling. The Animal Welfare Council of India later opposed the burning of live birds and instead suggested gassing as an alternative method of culling.

2022-05-17 22:24:20

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *