Avian Influenza Update
Avian Influenza (Bird Flu) has become a concern in the United States. It is considered an exotic disease, but is slowly working its way across the country and will eventually reach the East Coast. There is a highly pathogenic strain (HPAI H5) that spreads quickly and causes high death rates. This disease is easily spread from bird to bird as well as via clothing and equipment. It is spread primarily through waterfowl that carry the disease, but do not get sick from it.
There are several ways to help prevent spread of this disease and signs to watch for. Biosecurity is an important aspect in decreasing the spread of any disease. New birds should be obtained from reputable sources and kept separate from current birds for 30 days before introducing them to the flock. All equipment, including egg containers and transportation equipment should be cleaned and disinfected regularly and should not be shared between groups of birds. Clothing should be washed and changed as well. Clinical signs to watch for include: sudden death, nasal discharge, difficulty breathing, lethargy, discolored wattles/combs, drop in egg production, and misshapen eggs.
The State Veterinarians highly recommend obtaining a federal premises ID number so they can provide you with up to date information to help prevent outbreaks and, in case of an outbreak, they can help you manage your flocks appropriately.
The VT and NH State Veterinarians, as well as the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) are good resources for more specific information on avian influenza. Here are some ways to contact them if you would like further information or are concerned you may be dealing with this disease:
VT Department of Agriculture – State Veterinarian: 802-828-2421
NH Department of Agriculture – State Veterinarian: 603-271-2404