What do I need to know about Avian Influenza?

Avian Influenza or Bird Flu is a serious issue in the U.S. this Spring. Since December 2014, there have been many cases of the disease reported, and there will certainly be more to come. So everyone with birds – whether it is a large commercial operation or a small backyard flock – needs to take precautions and be aware.

So what is Avian Influenza?
Avian Influenza is a flu virus. As with human flu viruses, Avian Influenza has many different strains. Some of these strains are very mild, and you wouldn’t even notice that your birds had anything wrong with them. But other strains of Avian Influenza are considered highly pathogenic and can spread fast and cause a devastating amount of illness.

The Avian Influenza that is of concern right now is a highly pathogenic one that can kill exposed birds in 48 hours, the H5N2 strain.

How is Avian Influenza spread?
Avian Influenza is spread either through direct contact of a healthy bird with an infected bird or through contact between a healthy bird and the feces of an infected one. In a poultry house, it also has the potential to be spread in an airborne fashion through mucus and nasal discharge.

The outbreaks this spring are probably due to the migration of wild birds. Wild ducks and geese can introduce Avian Influenza to a domestic flock of birds. Also, people can carry the virus on their shoes or clothing and bring it into the poultry house.

Is it safe to buy day old baby chicks?
Our day old baby chicks come from Avian Influenza monitored flocks. Because adult birds typically stop laying when Avian Influenza is contracted, as well as the fact that adult bird perish within 48 hours, there is no risk to buying chicks from Purely Poultry or any other NPIP/AI certified source.

What can I do to prevent my flock from getting Avian Influenza?
The biggest thing you can do is to limit exposure to wild birds like ducks and geese. Also, practice good biosecurity practices. Don’t cross-expose your flock with other flocks of birds.

Clean off your shoes after you have been someplace with birds and their droppings, especially before entering your own coop or property. Don’t expose your flock to used equipment or other dirty materials that have been around wild birds or other poultry facilities.