Current Information on Avian Influenza
View updates on avian influenza findings here.

Protecting You And Your Business
USDA Requires Farms To Have Biosecurity Plans In Place To Qualify For Indemnification
Effective February 9, 2016, a biosecurity plan must be in place to allow a farm to be indemnified for losses due to Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza.
Read the full story here.

Information Vital to Protect Your Business  NAGA’s executive director, Rob Sexton explains the importance of the NAGA economic survey and what the organization is doing to help you prevent and fight AI in your area. Be sure to read the 6 Do’s and Don’ts in that article.

Survival By Prevention
Why All NAGA Members Should Be Worried About Avian Influenza by Bill MacFarlane of MacFarlane Pheasants, Inc.

In light of the recent outbreaks of highly pathogenic (High Path) Avian Influenza (AI), it’s important that gamebird producers and hunting preserves understand the situation and take action to protect themselves.

Defending Your Flock
•USDA “Defend The Flock” Avian Influenza Overview

Avian influenza (AI) is caused by an influenza type A virus which can infect poultry (such as chickens, turkeys, pheasants, quail, domestic ducks, geese, and guinea fowl) and some wild bird species (such as wild ducks and swans).

AI viruses are classified by a combination of two groups of proteins: hemagglutinin or “H” proteins, of which there are 16 (H1–H16), and neuraminidase or “N” proteins, of which there are 9 (N1–N9). AI viruses are further classified by their pathogenicity—the ability of a particular virus strain to produce disease in domestic chickens.

Highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) virus strains are extremely infectious, often fatal to domestic poultry, and can spread rapidly from flock-to-flock.

Low pathogenicity avian influenza (LPAI) virus strains occur naturally in wild migratory waterfowl and shorebirds without causing illness. LPAI can occur in domestic poultry, with little or no signs of illness.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) works closely with States and the poultry industry to prevent AI from becoming established in the U.S. poultry population. (See complete USDA Defend The Flock resources here.)

•What can Game Bird Producers do to protect their flocks? AI – What Can We Do? Penn State University’s Dr. Eva Pendleton-Wallner explains this outbreak of Avian Influenza, and why all gamebird businesses must take this disease seriously!

Biosecurity Basics
•USDA Defend The Flock Biosecurity Basics

There are several basic practices that can be easily incorporated into daily routines as part of a best management program on your farm or operation. Your company may already have biosecurity policies and practices in place. If so, please follow their guidance. The following tips can be used as supplemental basic biosecurity information:

Basic Tips
• Keep visitors to a minimum.
Allow only people who care for your poultry – veterinarians, contract workers, etc. – to come into contact with the flock, and keep a record of who is on your farm at all times. Ensure anyone who does have contact with your flock follows biosecurity principles.

• Wash your hands before and after coming in contact with live poultry.
In addition to potentially spreading disease from farm to farm or bird to bird, you can also spread germs such as Salmonella that can impact human health. It’s necessary to make sure hands are clean. Wash your hands with soap and water (always your first choice). If water is not available, remove as much organic material as possible before using hand sanitizer.

• Provide disposable boots (preferred) and/or disinfectant footbaths for anyone having contact with your flock. If using a footbath, be sure to remove all droppings, mud or debris from boots using a long-handled scrub brush BEFORE stepping into the disinfectant footbath.

• Change clothes before entering the poultry areas and before exiting the farm.
Visitors should wear proper protective outer garments or disposable coveralls, boots and headgear when handling birds, and shower and/or change clothes upon leaving the facility.

• Clean and disinfect any tools or equipment before moving them to a new poultry facility.
Before allowing service vehicles, trucks, tractors or tools and equipment, including egg flats and cases that have come in contact with birds or their droppings to exit the farm, make sure they are cleaned and disinfected to prevent contaminated equipment from transporting disease. Items that cannot be cleaned and disinfected – including cardboard egg flats – must not be moved. (See complete USDA Defend The Flock biosecurity tips here.)

Disinfection Basics for Avian Influenza

Physical Barriers

Diligence on Fences  This article details the importance of being diligent in you repair of fences and nets as well as importance of a rodent control program to prevent disease in your flock.

Waterfowl, Water and Avian Influenza – NAGA executive director Rob Sexton writes about the importance of keeping wild waterfowl away from gamebirds on your place, and how water on your property relates to this challenge.

Starling Control Common birds such as starlings can are often seen around water sources where waterfowl are also seen. They can also find their way inside your barns, which makes them a potential source for AI. Chris Theisen, of MacFarlane Pheasants has authored an article on controlling starlings.

Testing And Reporting

Samples for official AI testing must be collected by individuals trained and certified as authorized poultry testing agents. Once samples are collected, they may be submitted to a diagnostic laboratory approved for testing samples for avian influenza.

In light of the current Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) case in North America, many questions have been asked about the differences between the types of tests used to diagnose this disease. There are several tests for Avian Influenza detection and the interpretation of the test results is different. Follow the two links below for more information.

Avian Influenza Testing Procedures. Penn State’s Dr. Eva Wallner-Pendleton, a member of the NAGA Health Committee, has written an important article on different options (advantages/disadvantages) for testing for avian influenza.

Why we use PCR Tests  NAGA Health Committee chairman, Bill MacFarlane, writes a persuasive editorial explaining that the PCR test is the only test MacFarlane Pheasants uses every 90 days to detect avian influenza.

It is extremely important for backyard flock owners and poultry producers to report sick or dead birds. If you suspect A-I in your flock, contact your veterinarian, state Board of Animal Health or state Department of Agriculture immediately. It is extremely helpful to have this contact information ready and handy BEFORE a crisis occurs.

If you notice any of the following signs in your flock, a report should be made immediately:

•Unusual or high death loss
•Influenza-like signs such as nasal secretions, puffy eyes, ruffled feathers or a drop in egg production
•Loss of appetite with decreased food and water consumption
•Paralysis and other nervous signs
•Lack of vocalization

Additional Information From NAGA’s Avian Influenza Archives

Avian Influenza Preparedness from the Ohio Department of Agriculture that deals with procedures on your farm from equipment to personnel, from food supplies to who to have on your telephone contact list.

Dr. Rocio Crespo, of Washington State University has provided a list of tips from the USDA along with her own commentary that will help you take this important step.