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Protect backyard flocks from avian influenza

Published: March 28, 2022
Source : https://newswire.caes.uga.edu/
By Carly Alyse Mirabile for CAES News
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, new outbreaks of avian influenza (flu) have been detected in U.S. aquatic birds, commercial poultry and backyard flocks since January. Although avian influenza is not a threat to human health or food safety in Georgia, avian flu presents a risk to all poultry operations, from hobbyist flocks to the state's $22.8 billion commercial industry.
The key to preventing the spread of the disease is biosecurity.
Often heard but frequently misunderstood, biosecurity refers to a set of practices that all poultry owners should know and implement to protect their poultry flocks from disease.
Birds that are raised under pastured or free-range management systems need added attention due to birds’ increased exposure to environmental disease sources. Symptoms of avian flu can be found at preventai.uga.edu.
What is biosecurity?
Biosecurity is the practice of minimizing the spread of disease into a flock of birds or, in the event of disease occurrence, preventing the spread of disease-causing organisms off the premises. This is accomplished through practical, common-sense prevention measures.
Common routes of infection
  • Exposure to diseased birds, either wild or from purchased stocks of questionable origin
  • Introduction of healthy birds who have recovered from disease but are now pathogen carriers
  • Shoes and clothing of visitors or caretakers who have been in contact with other birds
  • Use of borrowed equipment that is contaminated with disease organisms
  • Rodents, insects and free-flying birds gaining access to feed sources
Of all the possible breakdowns in biosecurity, the introduction of new birds into an existing flock and contaminated foot traffic pose the greatest risks to bird health. Properly managing these two factors should be a top priority for poultry owners.
Know the warning signs of avian flu
  • Early detection is important to prevent the spread of disease. Look for changes in eating, drinking, behavioral habits, and for signs and sounds of respiratory distress.
  • Sudden increase in bird deaths
  • Sneezing, coughing and nasal discharge
  • Lack of energy and poor appetite
  • A drop in egg production or an increase in soft- or thin-shelled eggs
  • Swelling around the eyes, neck and head
  • Purple discoloration of the wattles, combs and legs
  • Tremors, drooping wings or twisting of the head and neck
To read the entire report, click here.
Protect backyard flocks from avian influenza - Image 1
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Mentioned in this news release:
Dr. Casey W. Ritz
University of Georgia
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