Biosecurity breaches probably caused one of the worst animal disease crises in the United States. Fast moving outbreaks of highly pathogenic avian influenza in 21 states resulted in the destruction of 50 million turkeys and chickens last year. More cases affecting 400,000 birds were reported in Indiana at the beginning of this year. The rapid spread of the disease showed increased vulnerability in the animal population, said John Clifford, chief trade adviser for the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service. As well, porcine epidemic diarrhea and porcine delta corona virus had previously entered the U.S., killing millions of pigs.
The viral roots of these deadly diseases are in Asia, but no one is sure how they got to North America, Clifford said at the National Institute of Animal Agriculture’s April 3-7 annual meeting in Kansas City. “Did we have good biosecurity? I don’t think so,” Clifford said. “If we don’t have good biosecurity and we don’t have good traceability in all sectors of the livestock population, we are vulnerable to these types of events.”