This statement was made by Mikhail Volkov, Head of Laboratory for Epizootology and Monitoring of the Federal Center for Animal Health (FGBI “ARRIAH”), at MAP Russia & VIV 2022.
The vaccination against avian influenza is only allowed on backyard farms and free range poultry operations. Vaccination of commercial flocks is currently not permitted. However, as many years of experience have shown, this strategy could not prevent the virus from distribution and spreading to the large poultry farms, Mikhail Volkov stressed in his interview to Veterinary Science and Life.
“FGBI ARRIAH’s position today is that we suggest cancelling vaccination permission for backyard farms and buffer zones surrounding commercial farms. Such areas, on the contrary, should serve as zones without vaccination, the so-called indicative zones. That way we could keep track of avian influenza outbreaks on backyard farms and make timely efforts to prevent it’s spread to the closed-house farms. It’s impossible to achieve high-grade immunity in backyard farms, and despite the false impression of welfare, the virus can pass into the environment and be introduced onto farms by synanthropic birds, humans and rodents. There are numerous examples of bird flu outbreaks that occur on poultry farms in regions subject to vaccination in backyard farms,” Mikhail Volkov told V&L.
Besides that, he says that the government should create a vaccine reserve in case of emergency vaccination at commercial farms, when the food safety of the country might be at threat.
Among the primary benefits of vaccination against highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) on farms the scientist mentioned a large saving in terms of minimizing financial loss. The expert noted, that over the past year HPAI outbreaks were confirmed in 22 regions of Russia. More than 6 million birds were destroyed. This year one HPAI outbreak has already been reported on a turkey farm in Stavropol Krai.
“Vaccination helps to maintain breeder/parent flocks and minimize food safety risks,” said Mikhail Volkov.
He says, that vaccination at farms, if allowed, won’t be overwhelming. “Vaccination plan should take into consideration the results of risk assessment, current disease situation and the level of biosecurity of the farm,” he noted.
The vaccination of poultry against avian influenza still hasn’t been introduced also due to the impact it may have on the country’s export potential, the expert goes. Once you have the poultry immunized, the zoosanitary status of the country changes and poultry movement restrictions apply. Besides, according to the OIE Code the state veterinary service should monitor the circulation of the virus in vaccinated stock, as there is always a risk of viral shapeshifting and appearance of its novel reassortans.