Valley City Times-Record

Poultry and bird owners encouraged to ramp up biosecurit­y plans now


Highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) is a disease carried by wild birds and affects domestic birds. Avian influenza is caused by the influenza Type A virus (influenza A). The virus is shed in the feces and respirator­y secretions of infected birds and is able to survive for weeks in cool, damp environmen­ts.

While the transmissi­on rate from animals to humans is low, it is a zoonotic disease, meaning it can be shared between species. There have been several detected cases in wild mammals, including two cases in red fox in North Dakota.

With millions of birds set to begin migrating this spring, now is the time for poultry and bird owners to ramp up biosecurit­y efforts.

“One of the first clinical signs of HPAI is sudden, unexplaine­d death,” says Dr. Gerald Stokka, North Dakota State University Extension veterinari­an and livestock stewardshi­p specialist. “Most HPAI cases are reporting a decline in water and feed consumptio­n prior to the unexplaine­d death.”

Decreased egg production and depression in layers may be another sign that birds are not feeling well. Purple or dry combs, being quieter than normal, frequent laying down and swelling around eyes are other symptoms birds may experience.

“The best way to reduce the potential for transmissi­on of HPAI is to reduce interactio­n between wildlife and domestic flocks,” says Dr. Stokka. “Wild birds and mammals, such as foxes, coyotes and raccoons, are transmissi­on vectors to your domestic flocks.”

NDSU Extension specialist­s have developed tips for reducing transmissi­on of HPAI.

To reduce transmissi­on between wildlife and domestic birds:

• If possible, keep poultry housed until the risk for transmissi­on has decreased. Non-lethal methods to deter wildlife are available on the U.S. Department of Agricultur­e wildlife damage webpage:­mage/sa_reports/ct_wildlife+damage+management+technical+series.

• Reduce the attractive­ness for wildlife to stop at your place by cleaning up litter and spilled feed around your domestic flock housing. • If you come in contact with or handle wildlife, change into clean clothes, wash your hands and disinfect your footwear prior to contact with domestic flocks. • Report sick or deceased wildlife to the North Dakota Game and Fish Department at­life/diseases/mortality-report. In the event you ned to handle or dspose of carcasses to reuce potential interactio­ns, be sure to follow the appropriat­e procedures:­e/ag-hub/highly-pathogenic-avian-influenza.

To reduce transmissi­on between domestic flocks: • Keep access your to distance. your prop- Restrict erty and your flock. Allow contact from people who care for your birds but minimize visitors. • Do not haul disease home. If you have been near other poultry or bird owners, such as at feed stores, clean and disinfect car and truck tires. New birds should be kept separate from your flock for at least 30 days. • Do not borrow disease from your neighbor. Do not share lawn and garden equipment, tools or bird supplies with your neighbor or other flock owners. “The best defense against HPAI is having a biosecurit­y plan in place,” says

Mary Keena, NDSU Ex

tension livestock environmen­tal management specialist. “It is your job as a flock owner to create a line of separation between your clean flock and the potential unclean issues that wildlife or visitors may bring.”

More informatio­n about biosecurit­y can be found

on the USDA Defend the Flock Resource Center webpage: animalheal­th/animal-disease-informatio­n/avian/ defend-the-flock-program.

“Poultry testing positive for HPAI are prohibited by law from entering the marketplac­e,” says Miranda Meehan, NDSU Extension livestock environmen­tal stewardshi­p specialist. “Poultry and poultry

products are safe to eat, and proper handling and cooking is always advised.”

To date, in 2023, there have been no positive HPAI cases in domestic poultry or birds in North Dakota. Report sick birds to your local veterinari­an. If you do not have a local veterinari­an for your flock, contact the North Dakota State Veterinari­an’s office at 701-328-2655.

 ?? (Pixabay photo) ?? Poultry farmers should monitor for signs of HPAI and practice good biosecurit­y.
(Pixabay photo) Poultry farmers should monitor for signs of HPAI and practice good biosecurit­y.

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