Poultry diseases prevention and culture of cooperation

The creation of the Quebec Poultry Disease Control Team (EQCMA) reflects one of the distinctive characteristics of the egg production sector in Quebec, namely a culture of prevention and collaboration.

In 2004, when an outbreak of avian influenza in British Columbia resulted in the deaths of approximately 17 million birds spread across 410 farms, a shock wave ran through the Quebec poultry world. A significant portion of the British Columbian poultry flock had to be culled. The crisis is estimated to have caused economic losses of more than $380 million.

“Everyone wondered how we might have responded if this outbreak had occurred in Quebec,” recalls Pauline Bouchard, president of the Federation of Quebec Egg Producers and EQCMA. “Really, we would have been in serious trouble. ,

The egg and poultry production sectors quickly realized that they had to establish a common strategy. He invested in the development of an emergency measures plan from 2009 under the auspices of EQCMA, first in a committee structure.

“In these situations we depend on each other. We cannot take different measures on our own accord. Our efforts will fail,” Mr Bouchard underlines. What is included in this emergency measures plan? This includes a defined intervention structure, clear communication channels, development of management and intervention tools in health crisis situations, without forgetting the important aspect of prevention.

Indeed, EQCMA’s primary mandate is to work to prevent any outbreak of infectious disease, including avian influenza, in Quebec’s poultry flocks, as well as prevent economic and human consequences for producers and industry participants.

In Canada, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) has the legal authority to intervene during outbreaks of reportable diseases.

However, a major lesson of the 2004 outbreak in British Columbia is that government officials and industry partners have an interest in working together for rapid and effective intervention, as each has expertise and limited but complementary resources.

It is with this in mind that EQCMA’s ongoing preparatory work takes on its full meaning. It is also being used in view of the first outbreak of avian influenza in Quebec in 2022.

We had to respond very quickly to support producers affected by this outbreak. Our level of preparation allowed us to avoid the worst-case scenario.

Pauline Bouchard, President of the Federation of Quebec Egg Producers and EQCMA

As soon as a case of avian influenza is suspected in a herd, CFIA requests from EQCMA a list of producers in the geographic area at risk.

EQCMA has the ability to accomplish this in a matter of minutes thanks to its geomatics tools. The CFIA then learns the number of farms in the targeted area and plans its intervention once the diagnosis is confirmed.

Without waiting for the results of the analysis, EQCMA provides producer associations and sector partners with an initial risk zone of minimum 3 km diameter. Therefore, every manufacturer located in the region should implement the enhanced biosecurity measures provided in the protocol in emergency situations.

If a case is confirmed, the CFIA intervenes at the infected site to reduce the risk of spread by isolating the premises and stopping all activities of the site with the outside world. All the chickens are then euthanized. The producer is responsible for cleaning and disinfecting hen houses and equipment at his site.

Through this ordeal, the producer receives support from the Federation and EQCMA based on the challenges faced. It is eligible for compensation from the CFIA and the Industry Compensation Scheme within pre-determined parameters.

Laryngotracheitis and Mycoplasma Gallisepticium

Following a large outbreak of infectious laryngotracheitis (ILT), which affected approximately ten farms in the Beauce-Belleches region in 2010 and caused approximately $2 million in losses, EQCMA administrators agreed that the organization would not participate in any future research on this disease. Will also interfere in the matter. also for cases of mycoplasma gallisepticum (MG).

For Pauline Bouchard, when one of the flocks of egg or poultry producers is affected, all partners and producers in an area must work together according to the intervention plan set by ECQMA, without which these diseases would spread like wildfire to other Can spread among producers.

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