As the latest outbreak of Avian Flu continues to spread, the need for biosecurity is more paramount than ever. Since December 2014, USDA has confirmed several cases of Avian Flu in the Pacific, Central and Mississippi flyways (migratory bird paths). Avian Flu has been found in wild birds as well as backyard and commercial poultry flocks. While biosecurity is a familiar topic with large commercial producers, owners of small backyard flocks need to familiarize themselves as well.
The Avian Flu is not only a danger to birds, but is potentially a concern for humans as well. The chances for the virus to infect humans is low, but still exists so don’t just casually dismiss symptoms. Symptoms in humans include: cough, fever, sore throat, muscle aches, headache, shortness of breath, nausea, vomiting or diarrhea and in some cases a mild eye infection. If you develop a fever, cough and body aches, immediately see your doctor and be sure to inform him or her that you are in regular contact with poultry.
Unfortunately, the chances that the current Avian Flu outbreak will continue to spread to other areas of the United States is very high. For this reason it is important to keep vigilant watch over your birds and immediately report symptoms to your local or State veterinarian, or USDA toll-free at 1-866-536-7593.
In order to protect your birds, good biosecurity will be key. The following practices are recommended to help limit the spread of Avian Flu:
- Restrict access to your property and your birds, from wild animals and other humans. Remember that other animals such as dogs, cats and rodents can spread the disease as well.
- Prevent interactions with wild birds. This means limiting or totally eliminating free ranging.
- Carefully wash your hands and change shoes and clothes after contact with your birds. It is best to have one set of shoes and clothes that you only wear into housing areas that you immediately remove upon leaving the coop, pen, etc.
- Do not permit your bird owning friends to come into contact with your birds. Also, do not share lawn and garden equipment, tools or poultry supplies from other bird owners.
- Regularly clean and disinfect areas where birds have access. Avian Flu viruses are inactivated by heat and drying and are very sensitive to most disinfectants and detergents (for example, Dow Chemical’s GS2 or Preserve’s Synergize). Be sure to clear away organic matter prior to disinfection for best results.
- Do not purchase birds or eggs from unknown sources.
- Report the symptoms listed or unexpected deaths to your local veterinarian, State veterinarian or through USDA’s toll-free number at 1-866-536-7593.
The STOCKADE® Poultry Pro-Vita-Min Supplement Block is a highly concentrated supplement that will help deliver essential minerals and vitamins that are critical for a strong immune system and healthy, happy birds. STOCKADE® Poultry Pro-Vita-Min Supplement Blocks will also supply extra protein and energy that may be missing from the diet due to decreased free ranging opportunities. Because these convenient blocks are available 24/7 birds can access them day or night and get what they need when they need it.
In summary, Avian Flu is a very real threat for backyard flocks. Be vigilant for the symptoms of this disease and implement biosecurity practices to help lower your risk. STOCKADE® Poultry Pro-Vita-Min Supplement Blocks can be a part of your overall management plan to keep birds fortified nutritionally to help keep them healthy and happy. Click here to find your local STOCKADE® dealer.
WARNING SIGNS OF INFECTIOUS AVIAN FLU
• Sudden increase in bird deaths in your flock
• Sneezing, gasping for air, coughing and nasal discharge
• Watery and green diarrhea
• Lack of energy and poor appetite
• Drop in egg production or soft- or thin-shelled misshapen eggs
• Swelling around the eyes, neck and head
• Purple discoloration of the wattles, combs and legs
• Tremors, drooping wings, circling, twisting of the head and neck, or lack of movement