The USDA is warning commercial and backyard producers to be aware the "bird flu" has been found in the US:
The United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) has confirmed two additional findings of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) in wild birds – one in Colleton County, South Carolina and one in Hyde County, North Carolina. These finds follow confirmation on January 14, 2022 of HPAI in a wild bird in Colleton County, South Carolina. All three findings are H5N1 HPAI.
What is AI?
Avian influenza (AI) is a highly contagious viral disease affecting several species of food-producing birds like chickens, turkeys, quails, guinea fowl, as well as pet birds, and wild birds. AT a 50% loss of the flocks, farmers truly have a need to worry.
AI viruses are shed in the feces and respiratory secretions of birds. They can all be spread through direct contact with secretions from infected birds, especially through feces or through contaminated feed and water.
AI viruses have the ability to survive for long periods when temperatures are low, they can also be carried on farm equipment and spread easily from farm to farm.
Wild birds are mostly responsible for carrying AI viruses in their respiratory or intestinal tracts. They don't always look or get sick. This allows them to carry the viruses long distances along their migration flyways. Thus, infecting other birds along the way.
World Organization for Animal Health, listed these economic impacts:
Avian influenza outbreaks can lead to devastating consequences for the poultry industry as well as at the national level.
- farmers might experience a high level of mortality in their flocks, with rates often around 50%
- due to the labor-intensive nature of the poultry industry, especially in developing countries, job losses can be significant
- to contain outbreaks, healthy birds often need to be culled, resulting in risks to animal and human welfare, and concerns regarding protein wastage and economic impacts
- the presence of HPAI restricts international trade in live birds and poultry meat
- public opinion may be damaged, reducing both travel and tourism in affected areas.
Biosecurity for Poultry Farmers
In a publication issued by the USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service Wildlife Services, they suggested the following ways to protect your flocks:
• Dress your game birds in the field whenever possible.
• If you must dress birds at home, clean them in an area your poultry and pet birds cannot access. Ideally, there would be a solid barrier between your game cleaning area and where your birds are housed.
• Keep a separate pair of shoes to wear only in your game cleaning area.
• Use dedicated tools for cleaning games, whether in the field or at home. Do not use those tools around your poultry or pet birds.
• Always wear rubber gloves when cleaning the game.
• Double bag carcass and feathers. Tie the inner bag, and be sure to take off your rubber gloves and leave them in the outer bag before tying it closed.
• Place the bag in a trash can that poultry and pet birds cannot access. This trash can should also be secure against access by children, pets, or other animals.
• Wash hands with soap and water or alcohol wipes immediately after handling the game.
• Wash all tools and work surfaces and disinfect.
Additionally, the USDA has a page dedicated to poultry biosecurity.
Is There a Public Health Risk?
People who are in close contact with infected birds are at risk of acquiring avian influenza, as well as other mammals.
Center for Disease Control issued this statement:
Human infections with bird flu viruses can happen when enough virus gets into a person’s eyes, nose or mouth, or is inhaled. This can happen when virus is in the air (in droplets or possibly dust) and a person breathes it in, or when a person touches something that has virus on it then touches their mouth, eyes or nose.
The best way to prevent infection with the avian influenza virus is to exposure. Most human infections with avian influenza viruses have occurred following direct or close contact with infected poultry.