Preparations for Avian Influenza Continue

Preparations for Avian Influenza Continue

Recently a conference was held in Des Moines, Iowa regarding highly pathogenic avian influenza, primarily to benefit states that were spared the last round in late winter and early spring.  Dr. Doug Meckes, State Veterinarian for the State of North Carolina and members of his team attended the conference:

“The first thing we learned is that we are very well equipped to depopulate birds. We have used defoaming machines to train and depopulate birds during some recent events. The key to stopping the spread of this disease is rapid depopulation and rapid disposal of carcasses.”

Meckes found that North Carolina was unique in another way as well:

“We have our emergency program division that has first responders and veterinarians who have responded in emergencies across the state. And we have environmental experts who will help us to be mindful of disposal of carcasses and poultry so that its done in an environmentally friendly way should the virus come into our state.”

Meckes says a couple of points of attack, if you will, have been identified:

“I would say that a significant likelihood that we will see it here. It has been on the Pacific and into the Central fly ways. It has began moving between different houses in the same farm and to different farms because it was not eliminated effectively.”

As we heard from South Carolina’s state veterinarian, Dr. Boyd Parr, earlier this summer, relying on neighboring states for help could be problematic, but Meckes says there’s another theory to helping out the neighbors:

“We are taking the fight to the enemy. If we can help Virginia and SC to depopulate birds we can help spread the control of the virus. This helps us and we are all well served and less likely to have a catastrophic mass mortaility along the east coast.”

USDA is estimating that upwards of 550 premises could be affected by AI this fall, going into winter.

But, if USDA’s projections are correct, Meckes says North Carolina’s resources could be stretched to the limit:

“USDA projects that there will be up to 500 different premises that will be affected this fall and into next year. That will tax us all with being able to respond.”

As the virus is anticipated to migrate back to the south come fall, Meckes says it’s a broad spectrum of possibilities:

“The concern is the numbers of cases. We learned that no one has ever seen a virus like this because of the way its acted, that it has been so vicious in its attacks on poultry and the quickness with which it can act. We cant anticipate many of its factors and affects so we don’t know how many premises will be affected.”

State Veterinarian for the State of North Carolina, Dr. Doug Meckes'

A native of the Texas Panhandle, Rhonda was born and raised on a cotton farm where she saw cotton farming evolve from ditch irrigation to center pivot irrigation and harvest trailers to modules. After graduating from Texas Tech University, she got her start in radio with KGNC News Talk 710 in Amarillo, Texas.