WPT University Place: Wisconsin Responds to Avian Influenza

>>Welcome, everyone, to
Wednesday Nite at the Lab
. I’m Tom Zinnen. I work here at the UW Madison
Biotechnology Center. I also work for UW Extension
Cooperative Extension, and on behalf of those folks and our
other co-organizers, Wisconsin Public Television, the Wisconsin
Alumni Association, and the UW Madison Science Alliance, thanks
again for coming toWednesdayNite at the Lab. We do this every Wednesday
night, 50 times a year. Tonight, it’s my pleasure to
introduce to you Darlene Konkle. She’s an Assistant State
Veterinarian with the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade
and Consumer Protection. She was born in Freedom,
Wisconsin, and went to Freedom High School. She came here to UW Madison for
her undergraduate degree. She also got her DVM, doctor of
veterinary medicine, here at UW Madison. And then she went to Missoula,
Montana, which is a pretty nice place to be, and then she went
to Kentucky and worked on horses, and then she came back
here for a residency fellowship at the School of Veterinary
Medicine on large animals. And she’s been with the
Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection for
about the last 10 years. Tonight, she gets to talk with
us about high pathogenicity avian influenza, Wisconsin
responds. Please join me in welcoming
Darlene Konkle toWednesday Niteat the Lab. [APPLAUSE]>>Thank you very much,
everyone, for being here tonight, giving up that nice,
warm, sunny evening Tom was talking about. And thank you, Tom, for having
me tonight. As Tom mentioned, I’m the
Assistant State Veterinarian, and part of my duties are to
help the state prepare for animal disease emergencies. And I’ve been involved with that
for about the last seven to eight years with the Department
of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection, and now I
get to speak with you tonight about our first major emergency,
disease emergency, that I’ve been involved with with the
State of Wisconsin. So we’ve had a time of it this
spring, and I wanted to just relay with you some of the more
interesting aspects of our response to high path avian
influenza in Wisconsin. Just a little bit about the
virus, an introduction. This is a generic sort of
graphic of an influenza virus, and you’ll notice the title
slide said H5N2. That is the variety of avian
influenza that we had in Wisconsin, and the major one
that was circulating around the United States this spring. And the H and the N refer to
proteins on the surface of the virus, and they tend to be
markers that we can use to help identify different viruses. So, the N stands for
neuraminidase, and the H stands for hemagglutinin. They can mix and match in
different varieties, and thus we come up with different strains
of high path avian influenza, and actually low path as well. Many of these diseases
circulate, these viruses circulate normally in the wild
bird population. We try very hard to keep them
out of our domestic birds and our domestic poultry, but they
do circulate out there in the wild. And the main ones we’re
concerned with for poultry are the H5s and the H7s. Those are the ones that tend to
be more apt to mutate into a high path form. They’re also the ones that we’re
a little more concerned about with potential ability to
transmit to human beings. Over the past 10 years, there’s
been an H5N1 virus, as many of you know, circulating in Asia
and parts of Africa. That is infectious to people and
can kill people, and we’ve been preparing for that in similar
virus introductions in the United States for a long time. So we’ve been very fortunate
with this particular virus that it has shown no signs of being
able to infect people. This is the current situation
nationally. You see Wisconsin sitting at the
eastern edge of the main findings for avian influenza
across the country. It began in December of 2014,
where the first detection was reported on the west coast,
Pacific northwest in backyard birds, and, actually, one
finding in a captive wildlife bird, a captive falcon. And then we had a little lull
between December and January. In February, no new cases. And then in the beginning of
March, we had the first detection in the Midwest, which
was in Minnesota. So, overall, to this date,
there’s been nearly 50 million birds affected by this disease,
and over 223 detections reported across the country. So, what’s at stake for us here
in Wisconsin? Why do we care? In Wisconsin, agriculture is a
very big industry for us, and I’m not just saying that because
I work for the Department of Agriculture here in Wisconsin. Agriculture generates $88
billion for Wisconsin annually, and over 350,000 jobs in this
states are related to agriculture. So it’s a big business for us
and supports a lot of our economy here in Wisconsin. For poultry, Wisconsin ranks
22nd in the US. So we’re not one of the major
heavy hitters for poultry here in Wisconsin, but we’ve got a
really diverse poultry industry in this state. We have several big
corporations, some of which are based here in Wisconsin, and
some who have their parent companies elsewhere in the
Midwest. But we’ve got laying egg
facilities, both cage-free and caged layers, as well as organic
layers. Some of these facilities are
large enough they have two to three million birds on a single
premises We’ve also got meat type chickens called broilers in
the western part of the state, and also turkey growers in the
northwest part of the state. We also have a really varied
game bird industry in this state, birds raised for hunting
and birds raised for release as game birds. And some of those producers
actually export a lot of those birds overseas. So it’s a big market for them. And then we have many, many,
many very small poultry flocks, backyard flocks. Do any of you have poultry of
your own here in Madison or elsewhere? I see a couple hands. Madison has allowed poultry
within city limits now for quite a few years, and many other
cities are following suit. It’s become a very popular hobby
to have your own chickens or even turkeys and other birds to
produce eggs or just for enjoyment. For Wisconsin, over $65 million
is related to being able to export poultry and poultry
products, and when we get a disease incursion like high path
avian influenza, many of those export markets are shut off. So that becomes an economic
factor for us too. And I realize you can’t read the
legend on this, but it really doesn’t matter. Here’s a screen shot of our
registered poultry premises in Wisconsin. And, as you can see, it’s kind
of a blue haze. We have almost 19,000 registered
poultry premises across the state of Wisconsin. And, as you can see, they’re
scattered throughout the state. There isn’t one area for us to
concentrate on. They’re pretty much everywhere. Many of the dots on this map are
small backyard poultry producers. And Wisconsin does have
mandatory premises registration. So it is the law that if you
have any sort of livestock or poultry, you need to register
your premises with the state. And the good news for that is
it’s free. Absolutely free, and it’s easy. You can do that online, you can
do it in person or over the phone, or you can send that
registration in by mail. And, really, the main
information we need is the location of the premises, what
kind of species you have, whether it’s poultry, whether
it’s cattle, whether it’s horses, and we don’t necessarily
need to know how many or the individual numbers. We just want to know where those
locations are so we can locate them quickly is there is a
disease event and locate neighboring premises quickly and
easily to inform those folks if there is something happening in
the area. So here’s a little bit of a
review of the high path avian influenza situation in the US
over the past few months. Again, first detection was in
December, just before Christmas. And originally in North America,
British Columbia had the first identification, followed fairly
shortly after in Washington and Oregon in backyard flocks We had
been preparing for avian influenza actually for many
years. We’ve done annual exercises. We’ve done tabletop exercise,
which, for those of you who aren’t familiar, it’s kind of
just like it sounds. People sit around a table with a
scenario and talk through what might happen and what might your
response actions be. And then there’s a recorder who
gathers all that valuable information, and then if you are
able and it’s ideal to take that template and go out in the field
with it and do a functional or a full scale exercise, see if your
initial plan is going to work when you’re faced with some
fairly real life conditions. So we’ve been preparing for that
for quite a few years, up to 10 years, and we knew high path
avian influenza was in the western states, and began
ramping up our preparations, and then we really ramped up when,
in the beginning of March, Minnesota reported their first
detection in a poultry flock in the west central part of
Minnesota. That was maybe a little
surprising because Minnesota is not that different from
Wisconsin, and we’re all hardy northern Midwesterners. Not much open water anywhere
beginning in March in Minnesota or Wisconsin, so not much
waterfowl moving through that many people see. So still work ongoing on where
that first introduction may have come from and how the other
introductions came to be. So we did ramp up our
preparations, began having additional meetings. We have really good
relationships with out industry partners and with other
agencies. Ramped up our preparations, got
out our plans, looked at them with more scrutiny, and looked
at our staff preparations, made sure we had enough supplies
on-hand to mount a response and that our staff had medical
clearance to wear respirators, which was going to be important
on our response, and I’ll talk about that a little bit more
later. So then, post-March 4th and the
later parts of March, other Midwestern states starting
having more detections as well. So we were not surprised when we
got an initial notification at the beginning of April. April 10th was our first case
here in Wisconsin. It was confirmed on Monday,
April 13th, as an H5N2. It does take a couple of days to
actually confirm the type of virus. The initial notification can
come much earlier, which is good news for us. We can prepare and respond then
more quickly. It happened to be a cage-free
layer facility in Jefferson County with 200,000 birds on
that premises. And their story was they saw a
slight increase in their mortality rate starting on the
Monday, April 6th. Most of these places, commercial
turkey and chicken flocks, they’re keeping daily and
sometimes multiple time a day records on feed consumption,
water consumption, egg production, mortality rates. They’re keeping pretty accurate
records there. So when they see any slight
uptick, they are paying attention, especially when they
know high path avian influenza is in the vicinity. Over the next two or three days,
they saw more slight increases, and they sent samples into a
Missouri veterinary diagnostic laboratory. So that Missouri lab received,
tested those samples, got what they called an AI matrix
positive. That just means they know they
have an avian influenza virus, a type A avian influenza virus. They don’t know whether it’s H5
or H7 or what type it is yet. But at that point, they notified
our state veterinarian, happened to be in the evening, always is,
and he happened to be out of town. That’s the other thing that
always happens when you get a response is your boss is out of
town. [COUGHING]
Excuse me. So we received that on April 9th
and began ramping up. Our incident management team had
already been meeting and discussing our plans. So on that Friday morning even
before we knew what type we had, we got together and began
planning. This was maybe a little bit
different than we had practice and that we had planned for. As I said, we do exercise and
plan each year and look at those plans. First of all, most of the flocks
that have been affected up to that point were commercial
turkey premises in Minnesota and these other states, and they
were seeing massive mortalities almost immediately. They were seeing hourly
increases in mortality rates. Over an entire barn, over the
course of a day, entire barns would die from this virus. This is how pathogenic this
particular strain was to turkeys. We didn’t see that in this case. We saw definitely increased
mortality, but not this extreme mortality that we thought we
might see. We happened to be the first
state that had high path avian influenza in a commercial layer
chicken facility. So, as it turns out, the
chickens react just slightly different than the turkeys did. So this is what the exterior,
it’s actually a Google Earth shot, of one of these premises
might look. We’ve got poultry barns. See if my mouse works here. Oops, I’m going to go backwards
here. The long structures are the
poultry houses. The one on the left is actually
a double decker. There’s a poultry house on top
of another poultry house, which is why it looks a little
different. Each of those are about 700-some
feet long. So they’re really big. The building on the top, you can
barely see there’s a semi truck trailer backed up to it, is the
egg collection facility. So these were shell eggs being
produced at this facility. So, large facilities. This happens to be 200,000
birds. There are many such flocks, some
in Wisconsin and many in Iowa and Minnesota, that are
potentially more than 10 times that big. So they’re large, complex
facilities. This is what the inside looks
like. You can see that, again, the
building is quite long. You’re looking from one end to
another, about 700 feet. And what you’re see from right
to left is the nest boxes and perching areas for these birds. And then there’s a system of
conveyor belts and so forth underneath to convey the eggs,
and then also the waste off to their respective buildings What
you probably can’t appreciate is there’s a lot of infrastructure
in that building. There’s a lot of metal parts. It’s all welded in place. There’s nothing that can really
be removed easily, and that alleyway is about three feet
wide. So there’s not a great way to
get any equipment in there. It’s designed to be closed in,
and it’s not designed to get heavy equipment through there. So that’ll be important to us
later on when we’re trying to figure out how to manage this
facility. So our response actions, we work
under what’s called the incident command system. All state and federal, and local
agencies too, work under that for emergencies. It allows you to organize
quickly. It allows for an efficient span
of control and for communication among the different functions
that are needed for an emergency response. So it’s a little big different
than our day to day way we operate. So we practice it too. And we have a great incident
management team for animal health that jumped right in and
began working. And our major goal is, of
course, to control the spread of this disease. We don’t, first of all, we love
to prevent it’s introduction entirely. That didn’t happen in this case. We did get our first case. But from here, we want to
control its spread. High path avian influenza is
very contagious from bird to bird, and the birds become
little virus factories. The virus is taking advantage of
the infrastructure in those birds, and it’s replicating and
it’s producing millions of virus particles. So in a premises with 200,000
birds, we want to try to control the spread of that virus as much
as we possibly can. Our first goal is always to
maintain the health and safety of our own responders and of the
public. As I mentioned, this particular
virus, so far at least, doesn’t show any signs of being able to
infect people, which is very good news. So, to control the spread, what
we immediately do is quarantine that infected premises and make
sure that no animals or animal products are moving on or off. We notify those surrounding
premises within 10 kilometers. Anybody that has poultry, we
notify them, and we did send out notifications through other
channels to poultry producers and our commercial flocks when
we knew we had that first positive. So our premises registration
system really helps us out in this case. We can get data pretty much
immediately from our geographic information services staff. They can produce maps from that
premises data. We’ve got great contact
information there that’s complete, and we can get out to
those other premises and test birds if we need to really
quickly. One of the other first steps is
an indemnification process. Through USDA, these infected
premises are eligible to get indemnity for the birds that do
need to be destroyed to control the spread of this disease. There’s an assessment process
there. The poultry industry, in
particular, seems to have a good one. There are differences in classes
and ages of birds, and there’s also indemnification for eggs
and egg products that would need to be destroyed. So it’s a fairly quick
calculation and inventory process that can get that
process moving pretty quickly. And, unfortunately, the control
method we have those most effective at controlling the
virus is to depopulate the infected birds. So to find the best way to
humanely and safely and quickly get in there and depopulate an
infected flock. They’ll also need to dispose of
those infected carcasses Can’t just take them down the road
because even though they’re dead, there’s still some virus
remaining. The virus can only survive and
replicate in a live animal, but there’s still residual that
could be tracked around on equipment or on truck tires,
things like that. So our major method of disposal
for this premises was composting, and that worked out
pretty well for us. Then there’s a process of
cleaning and disinfection of an infected premises to wash
everything down, get rid of all the organic matter, clean and
disinfect so it’s as spick and span and spotless as we can make
it, and then a period of waiting and some cases drying and
heating to, again, all these different steps to make sure we
kill the virus in question. And the reason we go through so
many steps is there’s no one perfect way to kill all the
virus, especially when you have a large premises and lots of
virus being produced. Our next task, and this is all
kind of simultaneous, is we need to do area surveillance over a
10 kilometer area around an infected premises. We need to demonstrate that
there’s no other virus in the area. That’s one to kind of do our due
diligence. If the virus managed to make its
way into especially a commercial premises, which are pretty
biosecure, are we seeing it in some of these other backyard
flocks too? So we go out there and actually
test and see whether it’s there or not. And that’s also important for
our trading partners as well. They want to know if there’s
evidence of virus in the area. And for the first time during
this outbreak across the nation, we implemented one of what’s
called the secure food supply plans. The secure egg supply. This plan was developed over a
period of years and had never been implemented yet. It’s a plan that will insure
safe and biosecure movement of eggs and egg products on to
production and on to the consumer without too many
interruptions in flow so that some commerce can be maintained
and product can stay on the grocery shelves. So here again is an interior
shot of a cage-free layer facility. And, as I mentioned before,
there’s not much room to move around in there, and that became
an important consideration for us. How to depopulate 200,000 birds
on a premises that’s infected with high path AI when you can’t
get any heavy equipment in there. The method that can be used for
turkey flocks or other flocks where the birds are primarily at
ground level and they don’t fly readily is to use a foam. Foam product similar to what
firefighters use. Quickly and humanely euthanizes
those birds so that they are disposed of in a manner that
will control the spread of the virus. In this barn we can’t do that. We have to actually physically
remove birds, and we used carbon dioxide, CO2, as the method of
depopulation. But it was a time intensive,
labor intensive process. And we’d like to find a way to
humanely depopulate large houses more quickly than that. One, we feel that it would be
more humane to euthanize birds quickly rather than have them
die of virus, and, two, it prevents spread of the virus the
more quickly we can do that. So this shows you an example of
that surveillance area. The inner circle is three
kilometers and the outer is 10. It happens to be around an
infected premises in Jefferson County. And in this particular instance,
we had 88 other premises within that 10K area. There’s not much that’s magic
about the 10 kilometers other than it’s an accepted benchmark
for how that virus might be able to travel outside of an area.>>Is that radius or diameter?>>Radius. It is radius around an infected
premises. As I said, our mapping folks can
get this type of information for us quickly. Actually, within minutes they
could have a map like this generated for us with those dots
on the map identified so that our operation section chief
could develop a list for his folks to go out and begin
testing. And, again, we did have a couple
of commercial premises within this area, and since they were
within a control area, still were operational, they weren’t
infected, they wanted to still move products. So we developed, used those
protocols in secure egg supply to allow them to move on to
processing. Here, again, is an exterior
shot. Just shows how big these
buildings are. And those show a conveyor belt. That’s actually for a manure
holding facility. And then those large fans at the
outside of the buildings. So that becomes a concern as
well. At this point, the standard is
to humanely depopulate those birds without shutting off the
ventilation in the interior of the building. So those buildings are still
being ventilated, viruses potentially escaping through
that ventilation system So we’re trying to shut this down as much
as we possibly can. And this is our disposal method. Those are compost piles within
one of those exterior buildings on the premises. These look, as far as I’m told,
about as pretty as compost piles can. Nice dark carbon material there. If you look really closely, and
if you could see a closeup, there are some feathers and some
other materials there. As it turns out, it’s relatively
easy to compost poultry. They’re the right size. They’re the right composition. They compost relatively rapidly
if you have the right conditions and you have enough carbon
material. And that is a good way to
dispose of them. You can keep a fairly compact
pile. You don’t have much leachate if
it’s done correctly. So no runoff that could
potentially have virus. And those piles need to come to
the right temperature to kill virus over the right period of
time, and then they can be turned for another cycle and
eventually removed from that building, and then they’re free
to land spread it or send it off or whatever else they want to do
with that material. And you can see here too, it’s
an interesting note, the person in the white Tyvek coveralls is
one of our staff. So he’s in personal protective
equipment for a couple of reasons I’ll go over later. So, we’ve got our hands full, as
you can imagine, with this premises from all I’ve
described. We’ve got many different tasks
we need to accomplish, some simultaneously, but we still
knew Minnesota, at this point, was getting daily introductions
of new cases. And I think Iowa at this same
time was starting to break with new cases. So knew there was still virus in
the area. We didn’t let our guard down. And sure enough, a few days
later on April 15th, we received word that we had actually two
more premises. We had two more right on top of
each other. One was a commercial turkey
operation up in Barron County with 126,000, and the third was
a backyard flock in Juneau County that had 33 birds, mixed
species. They had some chickens and they
had some domestic waterfowl. Interesting note on this
backyard flock, they had what some of our staff called feral
domestic waterfowl. They had birds that they
purchased or received last fall, and then over the winter those
waterfowl, they just kind of disappeared. Juneau County has got a lot of
wetlands, a lot of marshlands. Those birds just took off for
somewhere else they wanted to be, and then came back in the
spring to nest. So, obviously, we don’t know
where they were in the meantime. Very possibly they could have
pick up high path avian influenza. And in both these cases, we were
notified promptly of the veterinarians involved. The turkey operation has, their
parent company happens to be in Minnesota, but they have a
Wisconsin corporate veterinarian who we’ve got a great
relationship with, and she notified us immediately when
they had the first inclination that they might have a problem. And then the other veterinarian
was a practicing veterinarian in central Wisconsin, a mixed
animal practitioner, who was concerned when she saw clinical
signs or was notified of clinical signs in these birds. So she notified our office right
away as well. So that’s how we like it to
happen. This is a shot of the turkey,
one of the turkey flocks actually. This is a relatively typical, I
think, turkey barn. On the sides, those are
curtains. They get natural air coming
through these turkey barns for ventilation, and they raise and
lower the curtains to control the temperature for these birds
so these birds stay comfortable. This is a relatively good
looking flock. I apologize for the graininess
and the little bit of fuzziness in the picture, but there’s a
reason for that. I’m pretty sure this shot was
taken with a cell phone through a Ziploc bag. The veterinarian that was
on-site wanted to maintain biosecurity and not have to
destroy his phone via decontamination. So he took the shot with the
phone in a Ziploc bag so he could decontaminate it on the
way out. So all these shots are a little
bit grainy on this area. So, again, those are pretty good
looking birds. These birds potentially have the
beginnings of illness. You can see these birds in the
center and the one on the right, they are slightly floofed up. Feathers look a little bit
floofed, if you can see that. The coloring on the waddles and
on the head and neck may or may not be significant here. I can’t really tell. One of the hallmarks of avian
influenza and some other viral diseases of chickens and turkeys
is the birds get cyanotic because it is a respiratory
disease. So they’ll get that blue
coloring. I think that here is probably
more of a just camera. Camera artifact. But definitely they’re squatting
a little bit, feathers are fluffed up. That’s a sign they’re not so
comfortable. And here is somewhat later. You can see some of these birds
have succumbed Other ones aren’t looking so hot. They’re definitely looking sick. Minnesota showed some
interesting shots at a small meeting I was able to attend a
couple of weeks ago. Over a period of hours, that
virus can go through a barn of that size and kill all the
birds. Highly pathogenic is a good name
for it. Again, more compost. You can compost the turkeys as
well, and composting is a science. I’m not a compost scientist, and
I’m glad there are people who are because we utilize those
people. We actually were able to request
and received a composting expert from Cornell University to come
and help us out with designing the compost piles and training
out staff to monitor those piles effectively and get the timeline
down for what we could do with those. So we all, in the animal health
field, know a little bit more now, more than we thought we
would, about terms like leachate, compost, things like
that. So here’s the Barron County
detection as well. You can see there’s a couple
highways that run pretty close by to that infected premises,
and towns nearby as well. Important part about this slide,
and you won’t be able to see this identified here, but this
was our major foray into the permitting world. This Barron County premises had
surrounding commercial flocks that were also contract growers
for the turkey corporation. They also had their hatchery,
which was really important for them. That’s their genetic stock,
their eggs, that get sent out to all their flocks, and that’s
within this 10K control zone, and also they had their
processing plant in here. So the eggs, or, rather, the
turkeys that were being processed for consumption was in
this control area as well. The processing plants inspected
and regulated by USDA’s Food Safety Inspection Service, so
all that went on. Definitely human health
standards were maintained there. But because it’s in a control
area, we don’t want virus being spread around on truck tires as
these products are being moved from place to place. So, in each case, we developed a
permitting system where the farm would request permits, and this
is all part of the secure food supply plans as well, and agree
to maintain biosecurity standards for cleaning and
disinfecting these trucks, exterior and interior, testing
any live birds and the source birds for any eggs before
movement. As recently as 24 hours before
they moved they needed to obtain a negative test so we knew they
were negative birds being moved from place to place. So that all helped reduce the
spread, but it became its own arm of our organizational chart. In Minnesota, they employed
upwards of 25-30 people just to do the permitting of all these
products and birds that were moving. In our case, it would have
honestly overwhelmed our incident management team. We didn’t have enough people to
perform that task. So USDA at the time had just set
up a permitting group that we could refer to. So we could have them do the
permitting for us once we established the conditions, and
that really helped us a lot. Here’s the control area for
Juneau. You can see it’s a little more
sparse There’s military installation pretty close by
here, Volk Field, and there’s also a lot of wetlands. Interestingly, the International
Crane Foundation is not far from here. It wasn’t part of the control
area relatively nearby, and we’d had meetings prior to our first
introduction of avian influenza with different zoological
facilities that have birds as well. So they were aware of what’s
going on and really clamped down on their own biosecurity as
well. So all in all this was our
timeline. We ended up with 10 infected
flocks. Six positive turkey flocks in
the northwest Wisconsin area, that one backyard flock in the
middle and three infected egg layer facilities in Jefferson
County. And overall we had nearly two
million birds affected on those 10 premises. And here’s what it looks like on
a map. There were some people who
considered, the highway is right there, passing through the
middle of Wisconsin diagonally. We did not find any
relationships between these flocks, and there is a large
epidemiological study going on through USDA to look at
relationships between the infected flocks. We do have some evidence
nationally that each one of these was not an individual
introduction from contact with wild birds. There probably was some spread
between flocks because there’s a lot of interrelationship between
flocks as far as moving feed, moving bedding material, getting
products back and forth between these flocks. So we all need to learn how to
control that better and control spread of virus. I wanted to talk a bit about
some aspects of our response that are above and beyond just
the control of the disease but that are also really important. Our incident management team, we
were fortunate to have a really great safety officer, and she’s
the health and safety officer for our whole department as
well. And, again, this strain was not
a public health threat, but we still worked really closely with
state public health and with local public health to determine
what do our responders need to wear for personal protective
equipment in case the virus would mutate, in case there’s
other strains out there that might be a public health threat. And we also want to outfit them
so that they’ve got enough protective equipment they’re not
going to spread virus outside of an infected premises. So we coordinated quite a bit
through out incident management team. Each of our responders had to
have medical clearance to wear a respirator. It happened to be an N95, which
is the kind that fits over you nose and mouth tightly, and they
had to be fit tested to wear that. And then there was also a
monitoring period for anybody who was on an infected premises,
including farm workers who were helping with the response. So they were monitored by public
health. They had to report in every day
with how they were feeling, and they also had to take
temperatures for a period of time afterward. There were people who got sick
on this response There were people who got sick in Minnesota
and Iowa. It was March, April, and May,
which is prime season still for seasonal flu and other maladies
So there definitely were people who reported in and were sick. None of those individuals tested
positive for this strain of influenza. So, we also had extensive
training for the use of the personal protective equipment. It’s not all that easy to put
all that one, to don up in the Tyvek coverall, boots, gloves,
some sort of hairnet or bouffant, and then that
respirator, and then, more importantly, to take it all off
efficiently when you’re done and ready to exit a premises so that
you’re not contaminated anything when you do. So our safety officers trained
folks on that as well. Then we had other health and
safety issues pop up through the period. Weather related hazards, storms. Our people were out on the road
and in areas where there sometimes wasn’t an underground
shelter in case there would be a tornado warning. So they had plans in place for
that of where to go if there were tornado or severe weather
warnings. And then also, kind of an
analysis of the disinfectants that were used, the facilities,
protection against trips and falls, etc. So, health and safety is a big
component of any response. And here’s a shot, a little
better shot. This is from one of our
exercises back a few years ago. A team of responders helping
each other don and off. You can see they’re standing in
garbage bags. That helps when you’re
disinfecting each other to capture the water, the liquid
disinfectant that’s running off. So you can bag all that up into
a garbage bag and get it out of there so that you’re not
contaminating your area surrounding. So it’s a process, and people
need to train on it so they’re efficient at it. Another critical aspect for us
is biosecurity, and that’ll be a really ongoing factor for us
going forward. It was a standalone objective
for our incident. We made a separate objective in
our incident objectives beyond depopulation and controlling the
disease. We wanted critical biosecurity
measures to be in place, especially on an infected
premises so we didn’t drag virus outside of there. So that, we found, was
critically important to stop the spread, especially on that first
introduction, on that Jefferson County premises. We actually enlisted help from
Wisconsin’s National Guard to help clean and disinfectant
vehicles because there was heavy equipment going on and off that
premises, to help clean and disinfectant those vehicles and
keep biosecurity in place. There’s a lot involved with
biosecurity as well. We have a person in our office,
one of our veterinary program managers, Dr. Patton, who’s our
biosecurity chief. She’s our biosecurity expert,
and she was able to help look at our protocols and ensure that
biosecurity was in place. And, again, this involved more
training for farm personnel who may not have been as familiar
with it as well as our responders. And biosecurity concerns go all
the way from begin on the premises but also to handling
your samples in the surrounding areas. Every sample that was taken, and
these were basically throat swabs of birds, that’s how to
sample for avian influenza, but those samples go in a tube of
media, they get placed in a Ziploc bag, they get sprayed off
with disinfectant, they get placed in another Ziploc bag,
and they go on to the lab. So, lots of different barriers
to prevent contamination. And, also, for premises, we had
biosecurity information on our website and passed that out to
producers and backyard flocks in the area, encouraging people to
try to mitigate their access to either rodents, wild birds in
the area, things they could do on their own farms to enhance
their biosecurity. Another thing that the
commercial flocks can do is do periodic audits of their
biosecurity. Have either farm personnel or a
third party come in, and there are companies that actually do
this service for the commercial flocks, go in an audit their
biosecurity and rate it so that they can do better. And here’s just a shot, an
example of cleaning and disinfecting one of the dump
trucks that was delivering carbon to one of the facilities. You can see the responders are
decked out in personal protective equipment and brought
in, the National Guard was able to buy in more high powered
power washers for us that did a more complete job of
biosecurity. And then there’s the runoff from
that effluent as well that we worked with DNR with that to
control the runoff and dispose of any wastewater containing
disinfectant. So there were a lot of moving
parts to the cleaning and disinfecting as well. Public information was another
big aspect of our response. We had fantastic public
information officers at DATCP that we’re really privileged to
work with, and they did just a fantastic job of maintaining
public awareness, of working with local departments of
emergency management and local public health to get information
out to try to alleviate any misinformation or rumors and to
try to alleviate any concerns for public health and just get
good information out there. So we released a press release
once we first had confirmation of the positive, and we
coordinated that with USDA. Any press release or information
we had was put on our website for Department of Ag, Trade and
Consumer Protection, along with some fact sheets that were
developed, frequently asked questions, methods for
biosecurity, links to USDA’s website and so forth. Our public information officer
also put together daily briefings during the height of
this. So, she sent those out to over
5,000 recipients, from poultry industry people to fellow state
agencies to public recipients. Anybody who wanted it got one,
and they were posted on the website as well. So it was a daily briefing on
what was going on, and that really helped to keep people
informed and also helped, honestly, keep the phone calls
down to our office so we weren’t generating a lot of phone calls
there as well. People felt like they were
getting good information. Also, presentations like this
one and several radio and TV interviews during this session
as well. We also, in Wisconsin, had what
I think was our first governor’s declaration of a state of
emergency related to an animal disease incident So we had a
template for that mocked up in case of other emergencies, and
we were able to work with Wisconsin Emergency Management
and with the Governor’s Office to get the governor to sign a
declaration of emergency for our event. And what that did was help free
up some state resources that we could use to help us. The declaration was statewide,
but it focused in on the affected counties, which were
Barron, Chippewa, a little corner of Chippewa, Juneau, and
Jefferson. The way that declaration was
written may have helped us out, I’m not sure, to get our trade
back more quickly than not because we wrote it statewide,
that gave us some leeway if we had additional cases, but it
also focused on the counties where we were actually working. And when trade partners see
that, they see some limitation to what’s going on. They don’t see an emergency
that’s out of control. So, other states had
declarations of emergency that they actually rescinded because
it impacted their ability for those trading partners. And, again, the main focus was
it authorized deployment of Wisconsin’s National Guard
troops. We were able to get a specific
unit that was proficient in cleaning and disinfection and
had all the equipment and training to do that. They were a major help to us,
particularly at that first Jefferson site where there was a
lot of heavy equipment moving out to that area where it was
difficult to get inside the barns. So we really wanted to lock that
premises down. The contract grower in that case
did not have a lot of resources to bring to bear for that, did
not have a lot of employees or equipment. So National Guard came in and
really helped to keep that site secure and keep the cleaning and
disinfection that we needed in place. They also were able to do some
tracking of personnel for us. And they were just great
partners to work with. Another aspect to this that was
a little unique, our state veterinarian issued an order, a
summary special order, that would ban any swap meats
associated with poultry or poultry at swap meets. And he also banned any open
shows for poultry unless they were part of a county, district,
or the state fair. So fairs that were not a county
or district fair could potentially show poultry if they
applied to our office for an exemption to this, and, in any
case, any exhibitor with poultry to one of these open shows has
to sign a statement before bringing birds certifying that
they’ve had no death loss within the past 10 days in their
flocks. So that allowed a couple of
things. It allowed some of the so-called
show to go on, that we could still have our county and state
fair poultry exhibits this summer, but it gave us some
measure of assurance that some of the unregulated fairs maybe
were not going on and that our county fairs and state fair
going on during the summer is a less risky time for us. In the summer, it’s hot enough,
the virus, we haven’t had any new introduction since May, May
5th. So we’ve got a bit of a lull
here that we hope we can enjoy for the next month or two before
we may get the virus back in fall. So we had that discrete area
where we were comfortable enough to allow fairs and poultry
exhibits to go on with that assurance of no death loss. And our liaisons and
partnerships with other agencies were really important during
this time as well. We worked with our own staff, of
course. And I should mention that our
Division of Animal Health, our state veterinarian is our leader
there. We have 45 employees in our
division. About half of us are in the
office; the other half our out in the field in different areas
of Wisconsin. And 45 is not enough people to
manage a large scale disease response, and we knew that going
in. So we partnered with other
agencies, received help from USDA Veterinary Services, USDA
APHIS. They sent in one of their
incident management teams on our request, the end of April, for a
three-week rotation through right about when we were getting
pretty tired. We’d been at it nonstop for
three or four weeks and were up to seven premises. USDA was able to send us the
team with backups that we could integrate with, and they were
very professional. We also partnered with the
poultry industry. We’d done exercises and meetings
and outreach with them for several years. And many of these companies
brought a lot of their own resources to the table in
dealing with these outbreaks. They had their own employees
employed in depopulating birds and in cleaning and
disinfecting, and also their own resources. We also worked really closely
with the counties involved, with their emergency managers,
keeping them informed. And a lot of times they had good
input for us on what other resources might be available in
that county that we could tap into. And we worked really closely
with state and local public health agents and with Wisconsin
DNR. We have not yet had a chance to
sit down with DNR on this. We’re going to be doing that
next week, to go over kind of a debrief of this incident. I mentioned compost. DNR has some experts that helped
us out there with monitoring the compost. They also had their water
division experts that helped us with ways to dispose of any
water effluent from the cleaning and disinfection, and also some
of the products that needed to be disposed of. There was egg and egg products
that needed to go to disposal, and DNR was able to help us find
outlets for those and go through permitting process that they
already regulate. I mentioned Wisconsin National
Guard and also Wisconsin Emergency Management opened up
the State Emergency Operation Center at level four, and that
meant they opened what’s called their E-sponders site, which is
a SharePoint site that all the agencies can have access to to
monitor our situation. We were just able to have a sit
down debrief with most of these agencies and several others as
well. Just yesterday, as a matter of
fact. Sat around the table in DATCP’s
board room and talked through the incident, identified ways we
might be able to do better next time and what went well this
time. And one of the things we very
well may do if a similar incident or a larger one comes
up in the future is have Wisconsin Emergency Management
open up that Emergency Operation Center at a higher level, bring
people actually in there to coordinate so we can get
resources more quickly. This, again, is kind of a
summary map of the national situation That dark purple in
the center is kind of the epicenter of the Midwestern high
path AI outbreak. You can see Wisconsin is kind of
on the fringe. We were kind of on the eastern
fringe there. I don’t have a time lapse of it,
but there’s not a real clean east to west or west to east or
north to south progression of this. It was individual, a lot of
individual introductions over this period of time. USDA is looking at mountains of
data that’s been supplied by each of these farms to look at
any linkages, try to make predictions for the future, and
look at how this disease possibly could have spread farm
to farm and how many might have been individual introductions. So they’re doing a lot of work
there, some of which is already posted on their website. Some of those investigations,
some of the preliminary information is already up there. So, impacts. What did it mean for us so far? We’re still compiling a lot of
this information, but trade bans were one of the major ones for
us. Immediately, and actually even
before we officially announced our first case, Canada imposed
restrictions on poultry products from Wisconsin. They caught wind of it, they
knew it was happening on other states, and other countries
followed suit as a matter of course. So, really, the minute a state
or country declares a foreign animal disease like high path
avian influenza, our international exports stop. Usually USDA’s international
staff is able to do a terrific job in negotiating these trade
agreements and are able to mitigate that as much as
possible. But the poultry industry exports
about 18% of its profits. So when that 18% goes away, it
impacts them quite a bit. Also, there was a direct cost to
industry. I mentioned they got indemnified
for poultry and poultry products. They also were reimbursed for
some of the work they did, some of the time and the personnel
that contributed to their response. But there’s still lost revenue,
lost genetic material from these hatching eggs and from the
genetic stock that they have, and also, at least in Minnesota,
there were layoffs associated with this, with plants closing. The response costs for us we
haven’t tallied yet. We do have a significant cost to
us in terms of outright supplies and also personnel time and
materials. For USDA, the last number I’ve
seen approaches $700 million. There were just $300 million
appropriated from the Commodity Credit Corporation funds to
again assist with this response. There was also a cost to you and
me, as consumers. We saw price increases at the
grocery store, saw some supply impacts on certain products, and
also we found out some of our limitations in resources for
depopulating and disposing of these large flocks. And, again, this was the first
implementation of these secure food supply protocols, which we
hope to be able to use with little or no risk to spreading
disease, for not only future high path AI outbreaks, but also
for something like foot and mouth disease or another disease
impact in the future. So, what’s next? What are we planning for next? Tom keeps asking me if it’s
coming back in the fall, and I keep saying I do not know. I wish I had the crystal ball. But we have to plan for it. We have to assume it’s coming
back when these birds start migrating back in September,
October, and November. So we are planning for that. We’re trying to plan for the
worst case scenario. USDA just had an invitational
meeting a couple weeks ago with state veterinarians in which
they laid out some scenarios that would impact multiple areas
across the country and really stretch resources, and then
where do we gain additional resources. So we’re working through the
numbers there. Analyzing the epidemiology
information we already have, trying to identify where our
gaps are and where we can plug those or gain additional
resources. One of our big lessons learned
in Wisconsin is that even though we responded quickly and
efficiently, we know that we’re going to run out of steam after
about three or four weeks, and we need to plan for that right
at the beginning. We need to make plans to get
other teams in, other responders in, even when we start
responding so that we can have an efficient roll-over of
personnel and keep everybody up to speed. And we’re developing our
standard operating procedures for biosecurity in response as
well. So we’ve begun the process. We still have these premises
still under quarantine. We’re just about at the point
that they’ve gone through enough time, gone through all their
cleaning and disinfection, been empty of birds for a long enough
time that according to the guidance and the protocols we
have in place, we’re sampling them, the environment, and those
samples are coming back negative. Some of these premises are
getting ready to restock in the next couple of weeks. So that will be a big milestone
for us. So we’re still identifying our
lessons learned and moving towards the future here for
other introductions of high path AI or other diseases, like foot
and mouth, that might affect our other industries. So, with that, I’d like to thank
you all very much for being here tonight and for your attention,
and have a great rest of your week. Thank you again. [APPLAUSE]

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