U. S. Department of Agriculture wants the public to know the virus is not an immediate public health concern but it could infect poultry across the state.
LOGAN – With Avian Influenza creeping into Cache Valley, the U. S. Department of Agriculture wants the public to know the virus is not an immediate public health concern.
However, if the virus were to get into the state’s commercial chicken operations it could be devastating for them.
Utah’s commercial egg production has grown over the years and contributes some $75 million to the state’s economy. In 2019 it was reported there were 1.5 billion eggs produced in Utah.
There have been no human cases of these avian influenza viruses detected in the United States. Nevertheless, as a reminder poultry and eggs should be cooked to an internal temperature of 165˚ F which should kill any bacteria or virus.
Utah ag officials quarantine affected premises, and birds on the property are depopulated to prevent the spread of the disease. Birds from the flock are not permitted to enter the food system.
The United States has the strongest AI surveillance program in the world, and USDA is working with its partners to actively look for the disease in commercial poultry operations, live bird markets and in migratory wild bird populations.
All small backyard and large commercial producers should review their biosecurity activities to assure the health of their birds.
Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) has made materials available to help poultry owners with biosecurity questions, including videos, checklists, and a toolkit available at https://www.aphis.usda.gov/aphis/ourfocus/animalhealth/animal-disease-information/avian/defend-the-flock-program/dtf-resources/dtf-resources.
Good biosecurity means bird owners should prevent contact between their birds and wild birds and report sick birds or unusual bird deaths to State/Federal officials, either through their state veterinarian or through USDA’s toll-free number at 1-866-536-7593. Additional information on biosecurity for backyard flocks can be found at http://healthybirds.aphis.usda.gov.
Bailee Woolstenhulme, spokesperson for the Utah Department of Agriculture and Food, said during the spread of the highly contagious virus backyard flock owners should keep their flocks locked up and not let them roam free.
“Do not let your birds share spaces with wild birds,” she said. “Any contact with wild birds increases the chance of your birds contracting the disease.”
Utah State University Extension has a fact sheet to help backyard flocks and commercial poultry operations with bio security measures to help keep birds free of disease. Serious thought should be given to protecting not only your flock but those around you.
Here are a few basic principles USU Extension said might help flocks remain disease free:
- Viruses, bacteria, and other disease-causing organisms do not act rationally. Organisms are out to survive with no thought of the suffering imposed on others, the notice said.
- Breaking even the simplest biosecurity rule could reap devastating consequences.
- Learn about the disease and understand how it spreads and propagates. Know where and how disease organisms live.
- Another measure is to keep illness away from your flock by not visiting neighbors’ flocks or hatcheries unless necessary.
- Always consider your own chickens as potential disease-carriers and everyone else’s chickens the same.
- Keep facilities clean and tidy. Get rid of trash, old feed spills, and hiding places that may harbor rodents and predators. Keep birds in a comfortable environment. Provide adequate ventilation, heat, and clean bedding.
- Particularly avoid ammonia buildup and extreme temperature fluctuations.
Practicing good biosecurity is mainly just a matter of following general sanitary principles.
First, visit youngest to oldest as you feed and water during your daily routine.
Second, wash hands with an antibacterial product between visits to groups of birds.
Third, change into clean clothes before visiting other poultry flocks or fellow exhibitors, and change clothes again before you return to your own chickens.
Fourth, wash and disinfect boots or shoes before entering any area where chickens or other domestic poultry are housed; wash and disinfect again upon leaving the premises.
Fifth, keep your birds in a clean, comfortable environment that is protected from wild birds, insects, rodents, and potential predators, such as dogs, cats, skunks, or raccoons.
Constantly practice correct biosecurity principles until they become an unconscious habit.
Illness may still occur, but the likelihood of having a serious disaster is greatly reduced.