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Category: Plant and Animal Health

Do You Know the Biosecurity Steps to Protect Your Poultry from Avian Influenza? Get Advice From the Experts with #chickenchat2015 on April 16

Since December 2014, USDA has confirmed several cases of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) H5 in the Pacific, Central, and Mississippi flyways (or migratory bird paths). The disease has been found in wild birds, as well as in a few backyard and commercial poultry flocks. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) considers the risk to people from these HPAI H5 infections to be low. No human cases of these HPAI H5 viruses have been detected in the United States, Canada, or internationally.

Anyone who owns or works with poultry—whether on a commercial farm, in the wild, or at a hobby/backyard farm—should take proper steps to keep HPAI from spreading. The best way to protect your birds is to follow good biosecurity. Even if you are already familiar with biosecurity, now is a good time to double-check your practices. You are the best protection your birds have! Read more »

Bird Flu Is a Reminder For Back Yard Poultry Owners to Protect Their Birds By Practicing Good Biosecurity

Dr. Wood on set with Healthy Harry taping new biosecurity videos.

Dr. Wood on set with Healthy Harry taping new biosecurity videos.

Since December 2014, there have been several highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) confirmations in migratory wild birds, back yard flocks, captive wild birds and commercial poultry in several states along the Pacific, Mississippi and Central Flyways.  These HPAI virus strains can travel in wild birds without them appearing sick.  In fact, if back yard poultry flocks are exposed to these particular HPAI virus strains, they are highly contagious and cause bird death.  We are expecting that there will be more HPAI confirmations this spring as the bird migrations continue, so if you own or handle poultry, now is a great time to check your biosecurity practices.  You should follow good biosecurity at all times to help protect the birds’ health.  Your actions can make a difference!  Learn more here:  http://healthybirds.aphis.usda.gov

As part of good biosecurity, you should prevent contact between your birds and wild birds, and report sick birds or unusual bird deaths to State/Federal officials, either through the state veterinarian or through USDA’s toll-free number: 1-866-536-7593.  You also should avoid contact with sick/dead poultry or wildlife. If contact occurs, wash your hands with soap and water and change clothing before having any contact with healthy domestic poultry and birds.   You are the best protection your birds have!  Learn more here:  http://healthybirds.aphis.usda.gov Read more »

New International Wildlife Disease Training Course

Course participants practice swabbing wild ducks for diagnostic sampling

Course participants practice swabbing wild ducks for diagnostic sampling

Protecting agriculture is nothing new for USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), who is on the job 24/7 keeping livestock safe from animal disease.  APHIS is sharing that expertise internationally to help countries protect livestock and threatened and endangered species from diseases like brucellosis, tuberculosis, avian influenza, bluetongue and rabies.  APHIS, with help from the Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS), held a new training course specifically focused on wildlife disease issues.  APHIS recently hosted wildlife disease specialists from all over the world, including Cambodia, Kenya, Mexico, Tanzania, Uganda, and Vietnam. 

All of APHIS’ capacity building programs are designed to identify and reduce agricultural pest and disease threats while these threats are still outside of U.S. borders.   Capacity building includes training and technology transfer to assist foreign partners in building their animal and plant health infrastructures. This capability, in turn, helps to reduce the chances that undetected agricultural threats will find pathways into the United States. Read more »

USDA and Peace Corps Team Up in Screwworm Eradication Efforts in Panama

Peace Corps Volunteers receiving training on screwworm surveillance program from APHIS employees in Panama.

Peace Corps Volunteers receiving training on screwworm surveillance program from APHIS employees in Panama.

Over the past few months, USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), as part of the U.S. Panama Commission for Eradication of Screwworm, has started to partner with Peace Corps Volunteers in Panama to enhance APHIS’ surveillance activities. Volunteers will be working in rural Panama and meeting with local communities to raise awareness about as well as report suspected cases of New World screwworm, one of the most costly and economically significant pests of livestock in South America.

The New World screwworm is a parasite of warm-blooded animals, including humans. Female screwworms are attracted to and lay their eggs in exposed flesh wounds.  After eggs hatch, larvae burrow and feed on flesh, causing severe tissue damage and may even be lethal to the host. The screwworm was eradicated from the United States, Mexico, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, Curacao and, finally, all of Central America in 2006 using the Sterile Insect Technique in which sterile male flies are released in massive numbers to mate with wild female populations. The mated female flies then lay non-viable eggs, leading to a decrease and subsequent eradication of screwworm populations. To prevent the screwworm from spreading north of South America, The Commission is maintaining a barrier at the Darien Gap between Panama and Colombia, by utilizing both preventive release of sterile flies and field surveillance. Read more »

USDA Partners with Maryland School for the Deaf in Work-to-Learn Program

APHIS Work-to-Learn Student Carroll Barnes and USDA Federal Disability Employment Program Manager Alison Levy converse about his work with the APHIS Professional Development Center in Frederick.

APHIS Work-to-Learn Student Carroll Barnes and USDA Federal Disability Employment Program Manager Alison Levy converse about his work with the APHIS Professional Development Center in Frederick.

Traditional classrooms aren’t the only place where high school students learn new things.  Every workday from 12:40 to 2:40 p.m., Maryland School for the Deaf (MSD) senior Carroll Barnes is learning outside the classroom through his school’s Work-to-Learn program.  He hitches a ride from the program’s van and arrives at the Professional Development Center (PDC) of the USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, Plant Protection and Quarantine, in Frederick, Maryland for two hours’ of on-the-job training.  He’s tasked with a broad range of general office duties, such as filing, shredding, and stocking printers.  He also assists with the PDC’s training support activities, including collating and distributing classroom materials and labeling laboratory equipment and supplies.

As the PDC Equal Employment Opportunity Advisory Committee (EEOAC) Chair, I oversee his daily activities and coordinate the work needed by our staff with his availability.  In addition to gaining administrative and clerical work experience, Carroll is also exposed to the broader APHIS mission of safeguarding American agricultural and natural resources from invasive pests.  The PDC provides training, leadership and consultation to APHIS employees and others who work to protect the Nation’s agriculture and natural resources from plant pests and diseases.  Carroll believes that “all happiness depends on courage and work,” and adds he’s “learning about my new job, learning to schedule my time, to balance my budget…” which he suggests are good life lessons that everyone should learn. Read more »

USDA Celebrates Efforts in Support of U.S.-Mexico Cattle Trade

USDA Marketing and Regulatory Programs Under Secretary Ed Avalos speaking to Congressman Ron Barber and local stakeholders at the celebration of the opening of the contingency livestock inspection facility in Douglas, AZ.

USDA Marketing and Regulatory Programs Under Secretary Ed Avalos speaking to Congressman Ron Barber and local stakeholders at the celebration of the opening of the contingency livestock inspection facility in Douglas, AZ.

Trade… Employee safety… U.S. Livestock Health… Every organization must work to balance its priorities, and these are just a few of the priorities that the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) has as part of its work at the livestock inspection facilities along the border between the U.S. and Mexico.

APHIS employees work at these facilities to inspect cattle to ensure they are free of ticks and diseases that could harm U.S. livestock.  After violence prevented APHIS inspectors from traveling to several of the existing livestock inspection stations in Mexico, we recognized that we needed a contingency plan to ensure continued trade between the United States and Mexico. Read more »