- In response to a rapid increase of reports of bird flu contaminations, USDA is developing a vaccine to counter the virus, which the agency said could be a problem for poultry farmers for years to come.
- The foundation for the vaccine, a pure "seed strain," could be used to produce a vaccine that would target H5N2, the flu strain responsible for killing millions of turkeys and chickens, in addition to other highly pathogenic H5 viruses.
- USDA will hand over this seed strain to the pharmaceutical industry if the agency deems it necessary to stop bird flu from spreading.
Already, cases of bird flu contaminations have come from state to state, including several in Minnesota, South Dakota and a recent report from a chicken farm in Iowa. It seems a vaccine would be an ideal solution, but it is wrought with questions. These include questions about cost, how to determine which birds would receive it, what settings the vaccine is best for, and whether it would be effective in stopping the disease.
Another major question is how using the vaccine could affect the poultry industry as a whole, especially in terms of exports. Using a vaccine to take care of the bird flu issue could keep the birds alive, but if countries decide to stop importing U.S. poultry due to use of the vaccine, this could cause another host of problems for the U.S. poultry industry.