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South Dakota Senators Opine on AI Vaccination-Reason now Emerging


Senators John Thune (R-SD) and Mike Rounds, (R-SD) have commented on control of HPAI that has severely affected turkey production in their state.  Noting that the USDA is “testing” vaccines, the legislators point to the more important aspect of trade.  In their letter to the Secretary of Agriculture, Senators Thune and Rounds state, “We recognize that without updated trade agreements, the use of HPAI vaccination can put our poultry and egg industry at a disadvantage.  So, now is the time to begin the tedious work of talking with our trading partners to solidify agreements that reflect the new reality.”


An obvious starting point is to rescind the ban on importation of poultry products from France based on the spurious justification of protecting the U.S. industry.  Limited use of HPAI vaccine on a seasonal and regional basis for specific segments of the industry at risk in France will have no deleterious effect on the U.S. This is based on the reality that HPAI is introduced seasonally and disseminated along four flyways by migratory waterfowl and marine birds.


An additional question relates to why the USDA is “testing” new vaccines given publications confirming relative efficacy of commercially available products as a practical control measure along with biosecurity.  It appears that the fall-winter phase of the 2023-2024 epornitic is waning and will cease as it did at the end of 2022.  The USDA has until spring to determine the efficacy and safety of both HVT-vectored vaccines for day old chicks and poults and inactivated oil emulsion vaccines for older birds.  Concurrently, as noted by the Senators, negotiations must be initiated with trading partners citing the World Organization of Animal Health endorsement of vaccination as an adjunct to biosecurity, quarantine and surveillance as control measures.


HPAI is the Newcastle disease of the 2020s. We learned to co-exist and maintain production despite persistence of the infection from the 1970s onwards by applying vaccination. So it should be with HPAI. This infection will never be eradicated and poses a threat of severe economic harm using current unsuccessful control measures.