Biosecurity reminder for upland gamebird farms

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Situation update

Highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) virus has been detected in a flock of commercial turkeys in South Carolina. This is a reminder that wild birds can carry both HPAI and low pathogenicity avian influenza viruses (LPAI) viruses that can become HPAI. To prevent infections:

Find infections early

Neurological signs in a young pheasant.
Look at your birds every day for signs of HPAI.
Upland gamebirds (pheasants, bobwhite quail and chukar partridges) can be infected with highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI). When they are infected they may show neurological signs like having twisted necks or difficulty walking. They may also have watery diarrhea, decreased egg production or suddenly die with no signs of illness. Make sure that the people who look at your birds daily (workers, yourself) are reminded of what this disease looks like and know to report to you what they see.If you find 1-2 dead birds in a pen or enclosure two days in a row that you cannot explain, even if all the other birds look fine, first contact your veterinarian, then your state veterinarian office to find out what samples to collect and then your state’s NAHLN lab.

Prevent exposures

The current outbreak is in commercial poultry operations so, limit all links that your farm has or may have with commercial poultry. Some routes of potential exposure to avoid, are:

1. Garbage and off site dead bird movements may be ways that you are linked to commercial poultry operations.
a. Manage garbage and dead birds on site
or
b. Make sure that pickups are outside the perimeter of your farm and that you only visit the pickup site at the end of the day, never returning to the farm until you have showered and changed clothes.

2. Line of separation. Follow safe entry and exit procedures into the pen or barn carefully. Spring weather can make Danish entry systems difficult because of mud, rain, wind and other shifting conditions. At the same time, puddles and other standing water may attract waterfowl to get even closer to barns. This is the time to really focus on safe barn entries.
3.  Sharing equipment or employees. You wouldn’t knowingly share equipment (such as lawn mowers or other yard maintenance tools) or employees with a commercial operation but if you rent equipment or use a service such as lawn mowing, you may be. Review what you do and discontinue or limit those connections.

4. Having the same visitors as commercial operations or interacting with commercial operators in your community. The social distancing we are all doing for the current COVID-19 outbreak is going to also help to prevent you from inadvertently being contaminated with HPAI virus that could make it back to your birds. Egg or chick deliveries to clients or to the post office may be ways that you could encounter people who work in the commercial industry. Be safe when you return to your farm, limit visitors and remind everyone who works on your farm about the safe procedures you have in place to prevent viruses from reaching your birds.

Communicate

If you see something, say something. Remind everyone you talk to about their role in your farm’s biosecurity. Evaluate your risks, ask questions and participate in protecting your flocks!
List of NAHLN labsList of State Animal Health Officials

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