The Experts in Animal Health

I decided to learn more about the 1918 Spanish flu and just finished reading The Great Influenza by John Barry, which tells a thoroughly engaging story about the virus and the time that it infected the world.  I wanted to specifically understand more about the influenza virus and how society responded to this pandemic – and maybe learn something about pandemics caused by coronaviruses.

But after the news this week, I am back thinking about how we as an industry should respond to influenza in animals, specifically poultry.  The first death of a Chinese person infected by an avian H3N8 influenza A virus should make pause.  Until recently, I underappreciated the fact that influenza viruses are endemic in six animal species or groups (wild waterfowl, domestic poultry, swine, horses, dogs and bats) and that the human influenza pandemics were caused by viruses that jumped from primarily birds and swine to humans.

The most common response to avian influenza outbreaks is to contain the spread of virus by killing the birds, and because of the rampant highly pathogenic avian influenza virus, there are now about 60 million fewer poultry in the US.  So, it’s good news to hear that Ceva and Boehringer Ingelheim are helping France battle his and that companies like Zoetis are bringing new technology to the influenza war.  As an industry, we need new and better ways to fight zoonotic diseases, not another generic product.

Bob Jones

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