717 views 3 commentsupdate:Apr 6, 2007

Fighting the temptation

Jaime Luján Zilbermann
Over the past few years, many in poultry industry have lost sleep over highly pathogenic bird flu, either because it arrived unexpectedly within their country's borders or because they worried it would somehow make its way there. The consequences have certainly been devastating for many as entire flocks have been culled, international markets closed their doors and local consumption plummeted. (Comments 3)

Over the past few years, many in poultry industry have lost sleep over highly pathogenic bird flu, either because it arrived unexpectedly within their country's borders or because they worried it would somehow make its way there. The consequences have certainly been devastating for many as entire flocks have been culled, international markets closed their doors and local consumption plummeted.
So far, only the Americas have managed to remain free of infection, but even then there is no guarantee that the avian disease will not somehow cross the natural barriers that have so far protected these countries.
See no evil hear no evil
With all that is at stake, it might be very tempting for companies and national animal/public health agencies to refrain from reporting an outbreak, in the hope that they might somehow be able to prevent its further spread and hope that it quietly goes away without anyone having to know exactly what happened.
The heavy consequences of silence
However, experience has shown time and time again that the consequences to this course of action, in the long run, are much worse and that the possibility of limiting an outbreak is indeed very small. If at any time it is discovered that anyone in the production chain hid information from others, whoever does so can have no hope of ever again gaining the trust of the people they had misled.
Be prepared - the only course of action
Therefore, everyone involved must fight this temptation at all costs. It certainly won't put your mind at ease, since the problem will still be there. But there are options that might limit the damage of an outbreak and they can be implemented ahead of time. The scout motto “Be prepared” takes on a whole other meaning here.
For example, in order to limit a decline in poultry consumption after an outbreak, campaigns explaining the low risks of contracting the disease and the proper measures to be taken can be coordinated jointly by industry groups and government agencies. Another possible initiative is for industry groups to pressure their governments to implement the correct mitigation procedures and to have a proper action plan in case of an outbreak.
It's only by working together that any serious effort will have the desired effect. And although in the short term things might look grim, in the long run the perceived transparency and cooperation will bear many ripe, sweet fruits of labour.


Related links:

3 comments

  • no-profile-image

    WP reader

    Thanks for your time to write this blog. There are a couple of points I want to raise here:
    1- You have mentioned that "Only the Americas have managed to remain free of infection". This sentence is not clear to me. What do you mean by Americas? If you mean American continent, I am afraid that this is a very strong statement which might not be true. If you mean USA, what are your reasons that USA is free of this infection?
    2- With regard to your blog entry which is about poultry processing, I expect to find some information from food safety standpoint but I do not see any relation between this blog(about AI)and poultry processing/food safety.

  • no-profile-image

    ikeigbokwe

    Certainly, government agencies in some countries may be tempted to conceal new out outbreaks in order endorse their apparntly failed strategies at containing spread of the disease

  • no-profile-image

    Jide

    It is quite surprising that Nigeria that has become endemic for a number of preventable diseases is having her first case of bird flu death. More care most be put in place to ensure the nation does not become a reservoir for this disease.

Or register to be able to comment.