Reporting avian flu will change…eventually

July 22, 2021

Revisions to the World Animal Health Organization’s (OIE) chapter on avian influenza will mean fewer low-pathogenic outbreaks will have to be reported. Still, little may change initially because the United States will continue to observe existing requirements in bilateral trade agreements.

Under the new rules, all highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) will continue to be reported to the OIE. However, low-pathogenic AI (LPAI) of subtypes H5 and H7 will no longer automatically be reported. LPAI will only need to be reported if there is a “sudden and unexpected increase in virulence in poultry” or if the virus has “proven natural transmission to humans associated with severe consequences,” according to an industry briefing provided by USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS).

APHIS officials said the reporting change would help prevent unwarranted cutoffs of trade during LPAI outbreaks. However, they acknowledged that many U.S. agreements with trading partners would need to be renegotiated before anything changes. That could take time.

Other changes to the OIE’s AI chapter include revising the incubation period for HPAI to 14 days, rather than the current 21 days. Also, backyard flocks will no longer be considered “poultry” as long as they have no direct or indirect contact with commercial poultry.