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U.S. Poultry Industry Divided Over Bird Flu Vaccine Under Development

Despite the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) recent refusal to release a developed bird flu vaccine because trials indicated it was not effective enough, hard-hit poultry producers in the U.S. Midwest are still pushing the agency to approve a vaccine to protect flocks.

However, producers in areas not yet touched by the outbreak, such as Mississippi, are lobbying against such approval before extensive economic analysis and testing, driven by worries that such a measure could cause foreign markets to reject U.S. poultry, and that vaccinated birds could spread the disease if the vaccine is not completely effective.

In harder-hit states such as Minnesota, a major turkey producing state, farmers are eager to begin vaccinations as early as this summer, prior to the autumn migration of wild birds, which are thought to be carriers of the virus.

The USDA has stated that it views a vaccination program as a last resort – stating that it is preferable to eliminate the virus through quarantining and culling infected farms and birds. Moreover, any vaccination program will need to be a part of a larger, broader, effort including enhanced disinfection practices, and the swift culling of infected flocks.

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