Avian Influenza has been found on poultry farms in four counties around Wisconsin; the closest being Jefferson County, where two farms have tested positive for the disease. Since this is a highly contagious disease and because of its proximity to Dane County, poultry producers and small flock owners should be concerned and take steps to protect their birds.
Avian Influenza or H5N2 or “bird flu” is a highly pathogenic virus that infects domestic poultry, such as chickens, turkeys, pheasants, quail, ducks and geese. It also affects wild birds, in particular waterfowl. The virus spreads through direct contact with infected birds, contaminated objects/equipment, and aerosol (only over short distances). The virus is found in feces, saliva, and respiratory secretions of infected birds. It spreads rapidly and has a high death rate.
It is important to regularly check your birds for signs of illness and disease. Some symptoms of avian influenza include one or more of the following:
• Decreased food consumption, excessive thirst
• Respiratory signs, such as coughing and sneezing
• Swollen wattles and combs
• Watery greenish diarrhea, closed eyes, depression
• Decreased egg production
Biosecurity is vital during an outbreak and even before an outbreak occurs. Biosecurity is the implementation of best practices to prevent the spread of diseases. It is important for all poultry producers, no matter the size of their operation. The following are some steps you can take to protect your flock from Avian Influenza. These are taken from the Department of Agriculture, Trade, and Consumer Protection’s (DATCP) press release and are good information for anyone with poultry.
• Keep your distance—Restrict access to your property and keep your birds away from other birds; try to reduce contact with wild birds.
• Keep it clean—Wash your hands thoroughly before and after working with your birds. Clean and disinfect equipment.
• Don’t haul disease home—Buy birds from reputable sources and keep new birds separated for at least 30 days; quarantine returning birds from the rest of your flock after visiting a poultry swap, exhibition or other event.
• Don’t borrow disease—Do not share equipment or supplies with neighbors or other bird owners. If you must borrow, disinfect it first.
• Know the warning signs—Early detection can help prevent the spread of the disease. Check your birds frequently. If you find a sick or dead bird, don’t touch it.
• Report sick birds—Don’t wait. If your birds are sick or dying, call DATCP at 1‐800‐572‐8981.
For more information about avian influenza, please visit the following website: http://datcp.wi.gov/Animals/
Currently there are no human health concerns for this strain of avian influenza. It is safe to eat properly prepared poultry products, including meat and eggs.
Dane County UW-Extension Dairy & Livestock Educatorblazek.jennifer@countyofdane.