According to the OIE report on recent bird flu outbreak in Telangana, 40,000 birds had died and 1.6 lakhs, culled. Bird flu caused serious economic losses to the poultry farmers, feed manufactures, integrators, wholesalers and retailers. In addition, the public had reduced consumption of poultry products in fear of getting infected. It went to the extent that none other than the Chief Minister of Telangana and his cohort of ministers had to vouch for safety on consumption to revive confidence among consumers.
Let’s talk about the reasons for such outbreak in the country. In my opinion, poor hygienic practices, transmission from native breeds, close proximity of several farms, high stress conditions among the birds, non-availability of vaccines and vaccination failure are major reasons for the outbreak. Among all these factors, lack of adherence to bio security measures is the most important. Only strict biosecurity measures are within control of farm owner and it could be practiced within his/her available resources.
Confining to strict bio-security measures is definitely one of the chief solutions to the problem. To improve bio-security measures at farm, the farmer should to sanitation and hygiene, minimize animal/bird contact with micro-organisms, limit farm visitors, prevent contact with backyard or wild birds, share farm equipment, maintain clean foot bath and avoid contamination of feed and water. Adopting these measures will, then, act complementarily in improving the vaccination success and in reducing stress among animals/birds. The entire process, although mundane, should be strictly adhered to. Any deviation will be punished by poor performance of the farm and consequently, a disease outbreak.
The recent Telangana outbreak led to a direct loss of 30 crores and an additional 1.5 folds indirectly. Not only does it have a direct impact on the economy of the country, but has repercussions on several other industries; chiefly bakery. To avoid such outbreaks, farm owner needs to adopt bio-security measures such as devising a farm specific plan, providing adequate resources (human, materials etc), training and empowering people, measuring the progress and facilitating feedback on implementation.