State plan becomes national model for bird flu response

By Peter Kent

chicken, photo by Peter KentSouth Carolina’s poultry industry is a key part of the state’s agricultural economy. The industry accounts for $1.5 billion in sales yearly and provides more than 7,500 jobs. Annual production includes more than 68 million dozen eggs, nearly 1.5 billion pounds of chicken and about 10 million turkeys.

A rapid response plan to control an outbreak of avian influenza is vital. The plan developed by Clemson poultry veterinarian Julie Helm for South Carolina producers has received national recognition by the American Veterinary Medicine Association. It is now promoted as a template for other states. “The priority must be to protect the public and minimize loss to the industry,” said Helm, a member of Clemson’s Livestock and Poultry Health programs. “Education and practice exercises give us a chance to walk through response planning and reinforce lines of cooperation among agencies.”

The program she developed, called the Avian Influenza Rapid Response Training, provides a thorough understanding of the various types of influenza. More than 48 state, federal and industry leaders attended the statewide training this fall to practice a coordinated response by animal and human health responders.

For more information: Julie Helm, 803-788-2260, or

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