The regulatory response to an outbreak of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) in the United States may involve quarantine and stop movement orders that have the potential to disrupt continuity of operations in the U.S. turkey industry—particularly in the event that an uninfected breeder flock is located within an HPAI Control Area. A group of government-academic-industry leaders developed an approach to minimize the unintended consequences associated with outbreak response, which incorporates HPAI control measures to be implemented prior to moving hatching eggs off of the farm. Quantitative simulation models were used to evaluate the movement of potentially contaminated hatching eggs from a breeder henhouse located in an HPAI Control Area, given that active surveillance testing, elevated biosecurity, and a 2-day on-farm holding period were employed. The risk analysis included scenarios of HPAI viruses differing in characteristics as well as scenarios in which infection resulted from artificial insemination. The mean model-predicted number of internally contaminated hatching eggs released per movement from an HPAI-infected turkey breeder henhouse ranged from 0 to 0.008 under the four scenarios evaluated. The results indicate a 95% chance of no internally contaminated eggs being present per movement from an infected house before detection. Sensitivity analysis indicates that these results are robust to variation in key transmission model parameters within the range of their estimates from available literature. Infectious birds at the time of egg collection are a potential pathway of external contamination for eggs stored and then moved off of the farm; the predicted number of such infectious birds was estimated to be low. To date, there has been no evidence of vertical transmission of HPAI virus or low pathogenic avian influenza virus to day-old poults from hatching eggs originating from infected breeders. The application of risk analysis methods was beneficial for evaluating outbreak measures developed through emergency response planning initiatives that consider the managed movement of hatching eggs from monitored premises in an HPAI Control Area.
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Vol. 59 • No. 3