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Ga. Poultry Lab leader reviews efforts to control avian influenza


By: Georgia Farm Bureau
8/9/2017 2:06:03 PM


Georgia Poultry Lab Executive Director Dr. Louise Zavala reviewed the outbreak of low pathogenic avian influenza that occurred in Chattooga County this spring and gave recommendations poultry growers should follow to prevent spreading the avian influenza virus if another outbreak occurs.

"We have to treat the low pathogenic avian influenza (AI) viruses like the high path viruses because of their potential to mutate," Zavala said during the Georgia Farm Bureau Commodity Conference on Aug. 3. "We export about twenty percent of the poultry we produce in Georgia. Even if we have one case of high pathogenic AI all exports from our state will be blocked. The recommendations we make on AI is all about controlling the spread of the virus."

Zavala said the quick and efficient response of the Georgia team charged with handling positive AI cases resulted in the 6-mile quarantine zone around the infected farm being released in just 55 days after confirmation of the disease. She pointed out there were only 3 other poultry farms in the 6-mile zone that had to be monitored whereas some Georgia counties with lots of poultry production might have as many as 90 poultry houses in a 6-mile zone.

Zavala urged poultry growers to report any drop in production or health issues to their poultry company to be investigated, allowing a potential case of AI to be detected as soon as possible to prevent further spread of the virus. Growers and poultry companies receive indemnity payments to cover the live birds in the house at the time the virus is confirmed that will have to be depopulated to prevent the spread of the virus. Growers are also compensated for the depopulation cost. Only birds on infected farms are depopulated but all farms in the 6-mile quarantine zone are tested for 30 days.

Zavala said the Georgia Poultry Lab (GPL) will begin conducting biosecurity audits of poultry farms next spring that will be tied to eligibility for indemnity payments. The GPL is currently helping poultry companies and growers prepare for the audits.


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