University of Nebraska Medical Center

Bird flu ‘ticking time bomb’ cannot be stopped without major farming reforms, warns new report

Farmers Review Africa

The report – called Bird flu: Only major farm reforms can end it – shows that, contrary to popular belief, wild birds are typically victims of the disease rather than the cause, and it is spiralling out of control due to the rise of factory farming. This view is supported by the international Scientific Task Force on Avian Influenza, which was set up to provide governments with recommendations and guidance.

Backed by the very latest scientific evidence and illustrated with powerful images of poultry affected by bird flu around the world from We Animals Media, the report urges governments to implement a three-point action plan which includes:

  1. Mass vaccination of flocks to slow the spread
  2. Radical restructuring of the poultry industry, to adopt smaller flocks with lower stocking densities and more robust breeds and avoid clusters of poultry farms to reduce the risk of highly pathogenic strains emerging and spreading.
  3. Changing the way pigs are farmed as factory farmed pigs can act as ‘mixing vessels’ to create new pig, bird and human viruses.

Today, the animal welfare and environmental NGO has written to governments across Europe, the UK and the US urging them to work with the World Organisation for Animal Health (WOAH) and the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) to implement this action plan without delay.

Tens of thousands of wild birds are reported to have died from bird flu, although the true number is thought to be in the millions. Until recently, the bird flu that circulated in wild birds generally caused them little harm. But when the virus enters overcrowded factory farm poultry sheds – often carried in on workers’ contaminated shoes, clothing or equipment – it can evolve into dangerous Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI).

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