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Backyard flock owners need to observe strict biosecurity to protect birds

virginiaIn 2015, a strain of avian influenza resulted in economic losses of more than a billion dollars and led to the death of 50 million chickens and turkeys in the upper Midwest.

That same strain, H5N2, has recently been detected in a wild duck in Montana.

Since wild waterfowl are known carriers of avian influenza, this finding is not surprising in itself. This announcement does serve as a reminder for all poultry owners to take steps to minimize any possible contact of their poultry with wild waterfowl.  Backyard flocks that often range freely are particularly susceptible because of the possibility of domesticated poultry coming into contact with wild waterfowl or their droppings.

The best prevention is to practice biosecurity every day. Flock owners should prevent poultry from accessing areas where waterfowl may be present and should minimize the chance of spreading disease by tracking infectious waterfowl droppings into poultry housing areas. Anyone tending to poultry should wear separate, clean footwear and clothing used just in the poultry area. The best defense is to keep coveralls and footwear at the entrance to the poultry house or yard to wear when working with the birds and then change back into other clothing and shoes when exiting.

For more information about biosecurity measures and plans, flock owners should contact the VDACS State Veterinarian’s Office at 804.692.0601 or their local Office of Veterinary Services at one of the Regional Animal Health Diagnostic Laboratories. Go to vdacs.virginia.gov and click on the biosecurity button on the rotating slide show – slides change every five seconds – or type “biosecurity” in the search bar. To review biosecurity actions, go touspoultry.org/animal_husbandry/intro.cfm.

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