Home Avian flu: VDACS offers tips for bird owners who show their birds at events, exhibits and sales

Avian flu: VDACS offers tips for bird owners who show their birds at events, exhibits and sales

vdacsThe United States is currently experiencing the most costly and significant animal disease outbreak in U.S. history with the ongoing spread of Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) that began in December 2014.

As of July 8, 2015, the U.S. Department of Agriculture had reported the deaths of more than 42.1 million chickens and 7.5 million turkeys on 231 farms in 21 states. Birds on all infected farms to date have either died as a result of the disease or have been euthanized in order to prevent the further spread of the virus.

This strain of HPAI does not affect humans, but its effect on the U.S. poultry industry has been devastating. A recent epidemiology report by the USDA indicates that in the states where the disease spread among farms, it was due mostly to biosecurity deficiencies and airborne spread, with virus on feathers or dust particles blowing from an infected to a non-infected farm.

In order to protect Virginia’s poultry, the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (VDACS) offers the following advice to bird owners:

At home:

  • Limit access to your birds to only essential personnel (people who feed and water, clean houses, gather eggs, check for signs of illness, etc.)
  • Keep your birds under cover to avoid contamination from birds that fly overhead
  • Learn how to spot the signs of contagious illness
  • Always buy from a reliable source 
  • Consider testing birds before adding them to your flock
  • Report unusual signs of disease or unexpected deaths to VDACS at 804.786.2483

Find additional biosecurity recommendations online at vdacs.virginia.gov/animals/avian.shtml.


At a show or sale:

  • Do not share equipment among various poultry owners.
  • Practice strict biosecurity to protect your birds from inadvertent exposure. This includes washing and disinfecting any equipment, clothing and footwear used at the event before returning home, avoiding beak-to-beak contact between birds, washing or sanitizing your hands often and encouraging others to do the same
  • Keep lists of other bird owners with whom you come in contact to be able to share information if any birds at an event later become ill

If HPAI is detected in Virginia or on the East Coast in the coming months, VDACS will prohibit all exhibitions and other gatherings, including sales at events with multiple birds, to reduce the potential for disease spread. More information on HPAI and protecting your birds may be found at aphis.usda.gov/publications/animal_health/2011/ProtectYourBirdFromAI_Eng.pdf.



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