Creating a Farm Plan for Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza

Critical steps for farms to be prepared for an HPAI outbreak in Pennsylvania including a video on how to create a flock plan.
Creating a Farm Plan for Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza - Articles

Updated: August 8, 2017

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Creating a Farm Plan for Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza

Two critical steps in preparation for HPAI include identifying an "Administrator" of the Farm Plan and registering your farm premise with the PA Department of Agriculture (PDA). The Administrator is the person in charge and responsible for the plan, personnel, equipment, supplies and necessary communications in preparation of the plan and execution of the plan should HPAI be identified. The Administrator should register the farm premise with the PA Department of Agriculture online or call them at 717-836-3235.

Confirmation of HPAI

If no HPAI is known to exist in Pennsylvania

If no HPAI is known to exist in PA, yet your flock has high mortality and symptoms concurrent with HPAI immediately call the PDA Bureau of Animal Health at 717-772-2852 or contact one of the PA Animal Diagnostic Laboratory System (PADLS) locations below. A decision may be made to take swabs at the farm, rather than drive dead birds to the lab.

  • PDA Veterinary Laboratory, 2305 N. Cameron St., Harrisburg, PA 17110 717-787-8808, pvlsubmit@pa.gov.
  • Penn State, Animal Diagnostic Laboratory, Wiley Lane, University Park, PA 16802 814-863-0837, adlhelp@psu.edu.
  • University of Pennsylvania, New Bolton Center, 382 West Street Rd. Kennett Square, PA 19348 610-444-4282, nbccontact@padlsnbc.vet.upenn.edu.

Only after speaking to PDA or PADLS staff should you bring dead birds (no live birds) to one of the PADLS labs. The dead birds should be double bagged in heavy plastic bags, with the outside of the outer bag disinfected before putting into the vehicle for transport. Transport no live birds.

If HPAI is known to exist in Pennsylvania

If HPAI is known to exist in PA, and your flock has high mortality and symptoms concurrent with HPAI immediately call the PDA Bureau of Animal Health at 717-772-2852. These calls will be handled on a case-by-case basis, and consideration will be given to location, type of bird, mortality rate, etc. When the situation warrants concern, the bird owner will most likely be instructed to double bag dead birds in heavy plastic bags, disinfect the outer bag and place the bags at the end of the farm lane in coordination with Bureau of Animal Health Diagnostic Services (BAHDS) personnel for timely pickup. For further guidance on swabbing birds, submission procedures, and contact information see Submission of Samples for Detection (PDF).

Communication of HPAI on Your Farm

Notify HPAI positive status to all near neighbors with poultry, business partners, PennAg Industry Association and farm staff. Prepare this list of contacts and their phone and email addresses in advance.

Enhanced Biosecurity

The basics of biosecurity are to isolate your farm and birds from contact with disease causing organisms like Avian Influenza virus. These measures include controlling human traffic, isolating poultry from contaminated equipment and animals, controlling rodent and insects, good housekeeping and disinfection. The greatest risk factors for introducing virus are contaminated people, equipment and animals. These tiny particles can travel from place to place in manure, dust and feathers and are carried by the wind, on people, equipment, vehicles, animals and other birds. Designate a responsible person to oversee your Biosecurity Plan in order to train and equip personnel, execute the plan and keep the records.

The best management practices (BMP's) for basic biosecurity are listed below. However, in the event of HPAI, you need to enhance your biosecurity efforts to protect your other flocks and farms, your neighbors with poultry and your poultry business partners.

Best Management Practices for People

  • Make sure all employees and family members do not own or keep other birds at home.
  • Make sure all employees and family members ware freshly laundered clothing daily.
  • Have all visitors report to a central location and sign a log book before entering any building.
  • Do not allow any visitors to enter your poultry house or egg room unless they are wearing disposable boots, coveralls and hat.
  • Clean and disinfect (C&D) boots, or change disposable boots before entering each poultry house, especially if you have poultry of different ages on the farm.
  • Utilize and clean and maintain foot baths.
  • Always shower and change into clean clothes before leaving your farm and after returning home.
  • Limit each person's work schedule to one poultry barn.
  • Do not visit younger birds after visiting older birds. If you must do so, be sure to shower and/or change closes before visiting younger birds.
  • Keep all buildings locked at all times to ensure biosecurity plan is followed by all visitors and nonfarm employees.

Best Management Practices for Equipment

  • Do not borrow or loan equipment from another farm unless it is thoroughly cleaned and disinfected.
  • Restrict the movement of all vehicles entering and leaving your farm. Have vehicles park outside the premises whenever possible.
  • Bring onto the farm only new egg packaging materials and C&D egg racks, pallets etc.
  • Bring onto the farm only C&D poultry coops, carts and equipment for catching birds.
  • Do business only with companies that have high biosecurity standards.

Best Management Practices for Animals

  • Avoid contact with waterfowl, wild birds and animals.
  • Always place new birds in a C&D house.
  • Control rodents and insects both inside and outside the poultry houses.
  • Properly dispose of dead birds in a timely manner.
  • Make sure poultry houses are properly ventilated.
  • Keep manure or litter as dry as possible.
  • Secure outdoor access or organic birds indoors if the biosecurity threat warrants this action.

Depopulation of the Flock(s)

There are several options for the depopulation of flocks listed below that depend on the poultry type, number of birds, management practices, farm setting and resources.

  • Temperature Assisted Gas
  • Whole House Gas
  • Partial House Gas
  • Batch Gas
  • Modified Atmosphere Cart (MAC)
  • Foam
  • Captive Bolt
  • Cervical Dislocation

The farm plan administrator should choose the three best options that meet the unique needs of their farm. The reasons to choose more than option are many, but include, limited resources, labor, the importance of a rapid response and need to reduce the spread of HPAI to neighboring farms. Therefore, choose the three best options; consider the unique differences between flocks and barns that might require different approaches; then make complete and detailed plans for each method including the personnel, supplies and equipment needed for the size of your flock(s) and farm. Further depopulation planning, including the personnel, supplies and equipment needed should be considered.

Disposal of Poultry

There are several options for the disposal of flocks listed below that depend on the type of poultry, number of birds, management practices, farm setting and resources.

  • Leave in House (temporary measure, to reduce virus load before permanent disposal)
  • Burial
  • Compost
  • Incinerate (on-site, off-site)
  • Pyre
  • Render
  • Landfill
  • Ensiling (a high-density biosecure method for carcass holding and virus destruction)

The farm plan administrator should choose the three best options that meet the unique needs of the farm and its resources. The reasons to choose more than option are many, but include, environmental contamination, labor, the importance of a rapid response and need to reduce the spread of HPAI to neighboring farms. Therefore, choose the three best options; consider flocks and barns with unique environmental differences that might require different approaches; then make complete and detailed plans for each method including the personnel, supplies and equipment needed for your flock(s) and farm.

Cleaning and Disinfection

Influenza virus is fairly labile and readily dies off outside a living host. However, organic matter can harbor virus particles, especially in cool damp conditions. Therefore the goal of cleaning and disinfecting (C&D) is to reduce the organic material in the environment and on equipment, thereby reducing the risk of reintroduction. The "down time" between the depopulation of the flock and the placement of the next allows for a thorough C&D, fumigation, inspection and environmental swabbing of the premises. The minimum downtime must be at least 21 days and only after testing determines no evidence of avian influenza and state approval is secured, will the premises be allowed to repopulate. Designate a responsible person to oversee the C&D process in order to follow the correct procedures, inspect the steps in the process, utilize the correct C&D products at the proper concentrations and to document the procedures and dates of execution. Determine who will do the C&D and discuss the enhanced procedures that are required in advance be it an outside contractor or done internally with training of the personnel on the farm. The basic steps in the C&D process are dry clean, wash and disinfect, however there are optional dry clean and disinfection steps using dry heating of the poultry house to protect sensitive equipment.

Dry Clean

  1. Remove and properly dispose of all dead birds, manure or litter, eggs and feed.
  2. Trap and treat the premises to kill rodents and insects. Follow all pesticide labels, safety warning and keep all chemicals in their original containers.
  3. Thoroughly dry clean the house.
    • Use compressed air to clean air inlets both inside and out.
    • Clean fan housings, brush blades and louvers.
    • Blow dust and loose debris down to the floor.
    • Clean manure and dust off joists and exposed rafters or braces.
    • Run manure belts or scrapers as low as possible to thoroughly clean.
    • Clean all mobile equipment in the house, egg or work rooms.
  4. Inspect the premises, and if all areas are not cleaned properly, reclean them prior to washdown.

Wash

  1. Wash down the house.
    • In colder weather heat the house to enhance the cleaning process.
    • Wet down all dirty areas and allow time to soak.
    • Wash all surfaces and equipment using high pressure (1,500 psi and above).
    • Wash air inlets, fan housings, blades and louvers.
    • Wash the upper portions of the house first, then work down to the floor.
    • Wash and run the feeder system after washing.
    • Wash the floors, then drain or push the remaining water to proper disposal.
  2. Inspect the premises, if all areas are not washed properly, rewash them prior to disinfection.

Disinfect

  1. Apply approved disinfectants to all surfaces as a spray or foam, treating the upper portion of the house first, then working toward the floor.
    • Surfaces should be free of any organic matter for the disinfectant to be effective.
    • All disinfectants used in conjunction with each other must be checked for compatibility.
    • Follow all disinfectants labels and keep them in their original containers.
    • Follow all safety warnings and procedures associated with the use and application of all disinfectants.
  2. Clean sensitive equipment and rooms with low pressure (600-800 psi) or by hand.
  3. Disinfect all mobile equipment in the house, egg or work rooms.
  4. Inspect the premises and mobile equipment prior to removal. If not disinfected properly, re-disinfect them prior to surveillance.

Optional

After dry clean it is possible to disinfect the poultry house using dry heat.

  1. Seal the building and don't open inlets or turn on exhaust fans.
  2. Heat and dry the building to 100 to 120F for 7 days.
  3. At least three days must be consecutive days for heating and drying at the specified temperature and must include seven days in all.

The final cleaning and disinfection options selected and implemented must be included as part of the plan and approved by State Animal Health Officials and APHIS for reimbursement.

Surveillance

Quarantine and movement restrictions are maintained until at least 21 days have elapsed since the decontamination of the infected premises and all surveillance testing results are negative.

Repopulation

Following official approval of the C&D procedures, the infected premises will remain vacant for a minimum of 21 days to ensure the any residual virus is eliminated. Birds placed into a previously infected premises are subject to weekly statistically valid testing by rRT-PCR for the presence of AI virus. The last test will be conducted at least 21 days after the birds are placed in the house.