can you vaccinate against bird flu

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is testing the efficacy of a handful of vaccines against the current strain of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) hoping to stem the spread of the largest outbreak of bird flu in the nation’s history. The virus has so far been reported in all but one state, Hawaii, and has resulted in the deaths of nearly 60 million poultry.

While four vaccines are licensed for avian influenza—HA subtype, H5N1, H5N3, and H5N9—none are approved for the more virulent strain, H5N1 clade 2.3.4.4b, found in the current outbreak. This strain likely originated in wild birds, subsequently reached commercial poultry operations, then spilled over into nonhuman mammals, including mountain lions, coyotes, and bottlenose dolphins, which many have ingested infected birds.

Researchers with the USDA’s Agricultural Research Service (ARS) started testing four vaccine candidates this April, beginning with single-dose trials, according to a USDA spokesperson. Initial data from the trials are expected to be available this May. Researchers expect to have two-dose vaccine challenge studies with results in June.

Should these trials be successful—and should the USDA continue development—the next step is identifying manufacturers interested in vaccine production, the spokesperson continued. Once one or more manufacturers are identified, more than a dozen stages must be completed before vaccine delivery, starting with feasibility work by the manufacturer and culminating with product label submission and review.

Among those manufacturers is Zoetis, which announced on April 5 its development of an avian influenza vaccine geared toward currently circulating strains. According to the company, distribution of a vaccine effective against the current HPAI strain would take roughly a year.

USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) Center for Veterinary Biologics (CVB) is responsible for regulating animal biologics, including vaccines. Vaccine candidates are reviewed and approved by CVB to ensure they are safe, potent, pure, and effective, i.e., well-matched against the genetics of the current virus strain.

While typical timeframes for development and approval of animal vaccines are two and a half to three years, the USDA spokesperson noted that manufacturers may expedite development in emergency situations, resulting in a shortened licensure timeframe.

While vaccination can substantively reduce mortality and has the support of some sectors of the poultry industry, others worry that vaccinated birds could still contract the disease and transmit it, effectively masking the spread of the virus and hindering surveillance efforts. There is also concern about the rapidity with which HPAI can mutate, which could reduce the efficacy of a vaccine.

Given the many challenges of vaccine development and approval, the USDA spokesperson said it is critical that bird owners look at what they can do immediately to protect their flocks now.

“Biosecurity is the best defense against HPAI,” the USDA spokesperson said, “and USDA strongly encourages all bird owners to review our resources, such as our factsheet on managing wildlife to prevent the introduction of avian influenza, evaluate their biosecurity plans, and develop a strategy to prevent any exposure to wild birds or their droppings.”

Another major issue with vaccinating for HPAI is the potential loss of export markets, said Dr. Karen Grogan, clinical associate professor of avian medicine at the University of Georgia College of Veterinary Medicine. Historically, naturally infected birds cannot be differentiated from vaccinated birds, so countries impose trade restrictions rather than risk domestic poultry flocks, Dr. Grogan explained.

“The way that you preserve trade is you have a vaccine that allows you to do what’s called the DIVA strategy, that is, differentiate infected from vaccinated animals,” she said. “One approach is creating a vaccine using a neuraminidase type that’s different from the circulating virus that you could test for serologically.”

Viral neuraminidase is a type of neuraminidase found on the surface of influenza viruses that enables the virus to be released from the host cell.

An HPAI vaccine might also be approved for special bird collections, such as those exhibited at zoos, Dr. Grogan added.

“A lot of these decisions would have to be made within USDA with input from industry and stakeholders, she said. “You would also see a lot of input from the researchers at ARS given their research about a vaccine’s efficacy in a number of potential settings.”

View a timeline from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that gives a summary of significant highly pathogenic avian influenza and low-pathogenicity avian influenza outbreaks in birds, infections in animals and people, and events from 2020-22.

If you’ve had direct contact with birds infected with bird flu virus and become sick

Information [256 KB, 2 pages] about various groups of people who get sick after coming into contact with infected birds is available from the CDC.

Individuals who become ill within ten days of coming into contact with infected birds should stay home alone, away from other members of their household, and refrain from going to work or school until they have fully recovered from their illness and have been cleared of any bird flu virus infection. Notifying the local or state public health department can help with monitoring and providing advice when isolation is no longer necessary.

Close contacts (family members, etc. After being exposed to bird flu viruses, individuals should keep an eye on their health and notify their healthcare provider of any new symptoms, particularly respiratory ones, within ten days.

Visit the CDC’s What To Know About Bird Flu page for additional details on the disease and what to do if you’ve been exposed to it. gov) [154 KB, 2 Pages].

What to do if you find a dead bird

For information about reporting dead birds in your area, get in touch with your state’s wildlife agency, veterinary diagnostic laboratory, or health department. State and local governments have different policies when it comes to collecting and testing birds. When a significant number of birds are affected, wildlife agencies frequently look into sick or dead bird incidents. Reports of this kind may aid in the early identification of diseases such as bird flu or West Nile virus. Keep your hands off the bird’s carcass (body) if local authorities order you to dispose of it. Place the body in a garbage bag and dispose of it with your regular trash after using gloves or an inside-out plastic bag. Call 1-866-536-7593 to report odd signs in birds you have observed in the wild.

In the US, poultry that has been handled and cooked correctly is safe to consume. Bird flu viruses can be eliminated by handling poultry and eggs carefully and cooking them to an internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit.

The U. S. Strict health and safety regulations, such as routine bird flu monitoring, apply to the poultry industry. In the US, poultry that has been handled and cooked correctly is safe to consume. Bacteria and viruses, including bird flu viruses, can be eradicated from poultry and eggs by handling them carefully and cooking them to an internal temperature of 165?F. Before consuming any poultry or poultry products (including eggs), people should handle raw poultry with hygienic practices and fully cook it. Eating uncooked or undercooked poultry can make you sick. More information is available at Chicken and Food Poisoning.

While there is no evidence that anyone has gotten bird flu after eating properly cooked poultry products, uncooked poultry and poultry products (like blood) could have been the source of a small number of bird flu virus infections in people in Southeast Asia. Visit USDA – Food Safety Education for instructions on handling poultry safely.

Animal biologics, including vaccines, are governed by the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) Center for Veterinary Biologics (CVB) of the USDA. The CVB evaluates and certifies potential vaccines to make sure they are pure, potent, safe, and effective. e. , well-matched against the genetics of the current virus strain.

“Having a vaccine that enables you to apply the DIVA strategy—that is, distinguish between animals that are infected and those that have received vaccinations—is how you preserve trade,” she explained. One strategy is developing a vaccine with a distinct neuraminidase type from the virus that is circulating, which could be detected through serological testing. ”.

Additionally, a zoo or special bird collection could receive approval for an HPAI vaccine, according to Dr. Grogan added.

No vaccination is authorized for the more virulent strain, H5N1 clade 2, despite the fact that four vaccines—HA subtype, H5N1, H5N3, and H5N9—are licensed for avian influenza. 3. 4. 4b, found in the current outbreak. This strain most likely started in wild birds, made its way to commercial poultry farms, and then spread to nonhuman mammals like bottlenose dolphins, coyotes, and mountain lions, many of which have consumed infected birds.

The kind of neuraminidase on the surface of influenza viruses is called viral neuraminidase, and it allows the virus to escape the host cell.

FAQ

Can you vaccinate birds against bird flu?

US officials have authorized the vaccination of the critically endangered California condor (Gymnogyps californianus) against a type of avian flu spreading globally. It is the first time that the United States has approved inoculation of any bird against highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI).

Is there a new vaccine for the bird flu?

The California condor is the only bird species in the U.S. that has been approved for the new emergency-use vaccine, which was administered this summer to condors bred in captivity during a trial at the Los Angeles Zoo, the San Diego Zoo Safari Park and the Oregon Zoo.

Should I worry about bird flu?

Human infections with bird flu viruses are rare but can occur, usually after close contact with infected birds. The current risk to the general public from bird flu viruses is low; however, it is important to remember that risk depends on exposure, and people with more exposure might have a greater risk of infection.

Is bird flu still around 2024?

Cases have been low in the UK during winter 2023/2024, which is very welcome. However, there have been large outbreaks among Cranes in Hungary and Swans in Romania and, very worryingly, the virus spread to the Antarctic region for the first time this winter.