JOHANNS ANNOUNCES REQUEST FOR ADDITIONAL FUNDING FOR USDA SAFEGUARDING EFFORTS AND RESPONSE TO AVIAN INFLUENZA
WASHINGTON, Nov. 1, 2005 - Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns today announced a request for $91 million in additional resources to safeguard the United States against highly transmissible forms of avian influenza, a disease that commonly affects birds and has been transmitted to humans in Asia. The request is part of the $7.1 billion National Strategy to Safeguard Against the Danger of Pandemic Influenza outlined by President Bush today.
"USDA is eager to enhance our already extensive efforts to prepare for and prevent an outbreak of a dangerous strain of avian influenza in our country," said Johanns. "These funds will help us to intensify our surveillance here at home and deliver increased assistance to countries impacted by the disease, in hopes of preventing further spread of avian influenza."
As part of the integrated U.S. government response plan announced by President Bush, USDA will supplement its international and domestic roles in controlling the spread of avian influenza (AI). These areas include disease surveillance, enhanced biosecurity of poultry farms, control of movement of birds and products that might contain the virus and encouraging industry practices that reduce risk. Additionally, USDA must be fully prepared for the rapid and humane destruction of infected poultry, disposal of carcasses in a biosecure and environmentally acceptable manner and proper use of vaccination in poultry.
On the international level, $18 million would be available for bisosecurity and surveillance and diagnostic measures. This funding would advance USDA's collaboration on an initiative led by the US Agency for International Development (USAID) that builds on the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN to prevent, control and eradicate AI where it currently exists in Asia. USDA will work in partnership with the seven "high-focus" countries (Vietnam, Thailand, Indonesia, Laos, Cambodia, Burma and China).
To accelerate domestic activities, $73 million in funding would be available for stockpiling animal vaccine, surveillance and diagnostics, smuggling intervention and trade compliance (SITC)/ investigative and enforcement services (IES), research and development, planning and preparedness and staffing and management. The objective of these efforts will be to prevent and control H5 and H7 AI in the U.S. commercial broiler and live bird marketing system. The domestic funds would include:
$10 million to augment the current animal vaccine stockpile by 40 million doses;
$32 million for surveillance and diagnostic measures of wildlife/bird flyways, waterfowl birds and training;
$6 million for biosecurity measures to rapidly contain or exclude H5N1 AI virus from poultry farms or premises;
$9 million for trade compliance smuggling interventions enforcement;
$7 million for continued research and development of improved tools like vaccines, genome sequencing; environmental surveillance or biosecurity measures; and
$9 million for planning and preparedness training and the development of simulation models.
USDA is working closely with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the U.S. Department of the Interior, as well as the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, state and tribal leaders, along with industry stakeholders, to enhance emergency response plans in the event that HPAI is detected in the United States.
Worldwide, there are many strains of the AI virus, which can cause varying degrees of illness in poultry. AI viruses can infect chickens, turkeys, pheasants, quail, ducks, geese and guinea fowl as well as a wide variety of other birds. Migratory waterfowl also are known to carry the less infectious strains of AI viruses. Each year there is a flu season for birds just as there is for humans and, as with people, some forms of the flu are worse than others.
AI strains are divided into two groups: low pathogenicity (LP) and high pathogenicity (HP). LPAI, or "low path" avian influenza, has existed in the United States since the early 1900's and is commonly found here. It causes birds to become ill and can be fatal to them. These strains of the disease pose no known serious threat to human health. HPAI, or "high path" avian influenza, is fatal and more easily transmissible. HPAI is the type currently affecting parts of Asia and Eastern Europe. These strains of the disease in Asia have been transmitted from birds to humans, most of whom had extensive, direct contact with infected birds. HPAI has been detected three times in the United States: in 1924, 1983 and 2004. The 2004 outbreak was quickly confined to one flock and eradicated. There were no human illnesses reported in connection with these outbreaks.
To encourage producers to report sick birds, the USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) conducts an outreach campaign called "Biosecurity for the Birds." It provides backyard and smaller poultry producers with the latest information on biosecurity, in several languages, to prevent the spread of this disease on the farm. Additional surveillance efforts specifically target the live bird markets. USDA works closely with the industry to randomly test commercial flocks as well as testing birds that show signs of illness. USDA scientists also have been testing wild migratory birds since 1998 in the Alaska flyway.
APHIS also maintains an AI vaccine supply for poultry that can be used to create a buffer around an identified area, in the event of a large outbreak among poultry, to contain the disease while it is in the process of being eradicated. In addition, the agency has formed a national network of personnel to assist with surveillance and response in the event of an outbreak of HPAI or other foreign animal disease. That network includes more than 40,000 accredited private veterinarians who report any suspected disease outbreak to federal or state officials.