JOHANNS APPLAUDS ADDITIONAL FUNDING FOR AVIAN INFLUENZA PREVENTION AND PREPAREDNESS
WASHINGTON, Dec. 30, 2005 – U.S. Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns today commended President Bush for signing and Congress for approving $91.4 million in funding to enhance USDA's efforts to prevent and prepare for avian influenza (AI), a virus that commonly affects birds and has been transmitted to humans in Asia. The funding is part of a larger request submitted by President Bush to implement the National Strategy to Safeguard Against the Danger of Pandemic Influenza.
"I appreciate the support of President Bush and Congress as we enhance our efforts to safeguard the U.S. against highly-transmissible forms of avian influenza," said Johanns. "These funds will enable us to intensifying our surveillance in the United States and deliver increased assistance to countries impacted by the virus, in hopes of preventing further spread and protecting both human and animal health."
USDA's efforts are part of the integrated U.S. government response plan announced by President Bush. On the international level, $18 million will advance USDA's collaboration with the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, and other partners to control AI in Asian countries where the virus is currently endemic. In countries at high risk of AI outbreaks, the additional funds will allow USDA to collaborate with its international partners to provide technical assistance. The Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, Foreign Agricultural Service, Agricultural Research Service, and Food Safety and Inspection Service jointly implement USDA's international outreach efforts.
USDA will dedicate $73 million to efforts within the U.S. to prevent and prepare for an outbreak of the more transmissible forms of the virus. The domestic funds include:
$10 million to increase the current animal vaccine stockpile by 40 million doses and stock other response supplies;
$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.
Each year there is a flu season for birds just as there is for humans and worldwide, there are many strains of AI virus, which can cause varying degrees of illness in poultry. Migratory waterfowl are known to carry the less infectious strains of AI viruses. 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 H5N1 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.