Foam can kill chickens in a bird flu outbreak


bird fluThe article below raises two questions:

  1. Who will actually introduce bird flu to US birds? CDC? Beef industry or Pharma giant?
  2. What does Greenpeace think about this?
  3. Why US citizens let their administration use fear of the bird-flu as an instrument of influence?

(that would be 3 questions, though) 

WASHINGTON -- The U.S. government has approved the use of firefighting foam to kill chickens quickly if there is an outbreak of deadly bird flu in commercial poultry.

The Agriculture Department says water-based foam can be an alternative to carbon dioxide, which has traditionally been used to quickly kill large quantities of birds.

But in Canada, a senior official with the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) said this form of killing is not considered humane and Canada will not adopt the practice.

"CFIA is not satisfied that it is a humane method of destruction,'' said Dr. Jim Clark, national manager of the agency's avian influenza working group.

"The information that we have at this point in time suggests that rather than humanely destroying the birds, they in effect drown from inhaling the material, the water in it.''

"(There's) no question in our mind that it can kill birds. It can certainly do that. But there are a lot of questions from CFIA's perspective about the . . . humaneness of using the methodology.''

The U.S. Agriculture Department's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service said gassing involves more workers and exposes them to potentially infected birds, and it can be difficult to maintain a high enough concentration of gas to kill the birds.

Foam can be used to suffocate floor-reared flocks _ chickens and turkeys raised primarily for meat _ to contain deadly bird flu, said APHIS spokeswoman Karen Eggert. Foam also can be used in outbreaks of rapidly spreading disease such as Exotic Newcastle, a fatal respiratory virus in birds, when state or federal officials deem it necessary.

And it can be used when birds are in structurally unsound buildings, such as a building damaged by a hurricane or other natural disaster, she said.

Animal health officials in North Carolina and Delaware researched use of the foam to kill chickens quickly.

"Whenever you have a new solution to an old problem, it's probably because the old solution had a number of shortcomings or was not ideal,'' said Marty Zaluski, North Carolina Agriculture Department veterinarian.

"Using gas was not safe for people, it was more intensive as far as personnel and it was not as humane for the animals,'' Zaluski said.

Clark said CFIA will continue to study the research on the use of foam, but would not adopt the practice unless it can be proven it is humane.

The practice has other critics. Animal rights advocates argue against using the foam because it suffocates the animals, and they are urging authorities to use gases instead.

"All of the top animal welfare scientists agree that using inert gases is the most humane way,'' said Matt Prescott, spokesman for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.