When there is a poultry disease outbreak in the United States, it has a big impact on the industry, especially with regards to global exports which fall between 15 to 20 percent of the poultry industry business.
Because of this, it is critical to educate the global poultry community on the safe guards the United States has in place to protect against the spread of poultry diseases such as avian influenza.
This summer, from Tuesday, June 5 through Thursday, June 7, the University of Delaware will host a Poultry Disease Outbreak Management and Regionalization (PDOMR) certificate course geared towards giving an international group of participants a better understanding of how the United States is able to regionalize and control avian influenza outbreaks.
“The idea is that there are countries that say they don’t believe it’s safe to import poultry from anywhere in the United States when there’s an A.I. outbreak and the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) is saying, ‘Wait a minute, we have a program, a very well defined program to ensure that poultry from other regions of the country are safe,’” said Bob Alphin, senior instructor in the Department of Animal and Food Sciences and manager of the Allen Laboratory.
“Regionalization can be applied at the national, state, and ideally down to the county level,” said Eric Benson, professor in the Department of Animal and Food Sciences and director of the program. “The avian influenza outbreak of 2014 – 2015 was the worst animal health disaster in U.S. history, but large sectors of the poultry industry including a commodity crucial to Delaware, broiler or meat chickens, were not directly impacted by the disease outbreak. Despite this, exports of broilers were significantly reduced. Good regionalization agreements help to reduce these impacts.”
The PDOMR training program will be an intensive program, taught in English, held at UD’s College of Agriculture and Natural Resources in Newark.
Using a mixture of seminars, discussions, and hands-on technology demonstrations, the Certificate program’s instructors will cover topics such as the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) reportable poultry diseases including avian influenza virus, surveillance, biosecurity, outbreak response and control, incident command structures, protecting the responder, disposal, composting, decontamination, the U.S. poultry industry, the nature and importance of regionalization and the economic impact of animal disease outbreaks.
The training program will extensively use the experiences gained during the 2014 – 2015 highly pathogenic avian influenza and other outbreaks.
The course also utilizes the “Delaware model,” which emphasizes close cooperation between government, industry and educational institutions to manage avian influenza outbreaks using best management practices and technologies related to controlling outbreaks of avian influenza and other catastrophic disease outbreaks.
Alphin said there are around 10-12 participants who are sponsored by the USDA who will be arriving from all over the world with room for 8 to 10 more participants.
“What we have to do is educate these foreign representatives about the entire program, the scope of it, the details, and then the big thing is to answer their questions,” said Alphin. “We think it’s one of our land grant missions. We try to help the industry by educating people about it and we think that if we can get more countries to accept our exports—even during the disease outbreaks where appropriate—that’s a win-win for everyone.”
“International capacity building helps protect the U.S. industry by helping to keep diseases away from the U.S. industry,” said Benson. “PDOMR presents both the technical and policy components in disease response.”
PDOMR is one of several internationally focused joint educational programs presented by the University of Delaware’s Avian Biosciences Center (ABC) in the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources (CANR) and the Division of Professional and Continuing Studies (PCS).
Additional offerings include the Emergency Poultry Disease Response certificate program, which is a five-day program concentrating on building participants’ technical expertise for managing and responding to disease outbreaks. The Veterinary Diagnostics and Laboratory Quality Assurance program is a second five-day program that helps international veterinary laboratories improve their capacity and meet ISO standards.
For additional information on PDOMR or to sign up for the program, visit the website.
Article by Adam Thomas
Photo courtesy of Bob Alphin