USPOULTRY expert travels to Armenia to help stem bird flu spread
Dr. Elizabeth Krushinskie, DVM, PhD, vice president for food safety and production programmes at the US Poultry & Egg Association, and an eminent expert on avian influenza viruses, would be travelling to Armenia Nov 11-18 to conduct a preparedness assessment for detecting, diagnosing and containing avian flu. Krushinskie would be going to Armenia as a volunteer under the auspices of the international non-profit ACDI/VOCA.
Although there have been no confirmed bird deaths from avian flu in Armenia, the country falls within migratory paths that are thought to have brought the disease to Turkey, Armenia's neighbour to the west. It is also possible that the lack of confirmed cases is a result of inadequate surveillance. As a result of the Armenian ministry of agriculture's request for assistance, ACDI/VOCA identified Krushinskie as the most qualified candidate for the assignment. While in Armenia, she would prepare recommendations for an appropriate response to avian flu, including farm inspections, sample collection and testing procedures. Krushinskie would also conduct training for Ministry of Agriculture employees and recommend containment measures to the government.
Krushinskie's upcoming volunteer assignment is not only important for Armenia, but could also be a critical step toward stemming the virus's spread worldwide. According to Krushinskie, the virus could be defeated if the international community worked together to improve surveillance and disease control programmes. The key is early detection, elimination of infected poultry and vaccinations for at-risk animals. She explained, "Instead of sitting and waiting for a major health and economic crisis to come to us, the United States needs to be more proactive. We know what we need to do to stop the spread of the H5N1 virus. We just need to allocate the resources to do it."
With funding from the American people through the US Agency for International Development, ACDI/VOCA sends approximately 400 experts to developing and transitioning countries each year to address the most pressing and intractable development problems related to enterprise development, agribusiness systems, financial services and crisis recovery. Krushinskie is one of 7,000 volunteer consultants that ACDI/VOCA calls upon for short-term technical assignments to complement its long-term development projects. With its cadre of experts and 42 years of agribusiness experience in more than 142 nations, ACDI/VOCA is uniquely positioned to design and implement flu risk mitigation strategies and minimise the adverse economic impact of flock destruction measures in rural communities. For more information about ACDI/VOCA, visit www.acdivoca.org.
The US Poultry & Egg Association is the world's largest and most active poultry organisation of its kind. Its focus is research, education, communication and product promotion. For more information, go to www.poultryegg.org.