WattAgNet: Be vigilant about avian flu as bird migrations begin


USDA chief veterinary officer advises closely monitoring flocks and using good biosecurity measures

Poultry producers in the United States are being advised to be on the lookout for signs of avian influenza as wild birds are beginning their fall migrations.

Dr. Jack Shere, USDA chief veterinary officer and deputy administrator for Veterinary Services, said poultry farmers are at risk as wild ducks and geese that could be carrying the avian influenza virus are flying south for the winter.

“Look to see if there’s any reduction in feed consumption, any decrease in egg production, any birds that just don’t act right that seem weak or separate themselves or just don’t act like they normally do,” Shere said. “Those are signs that things are different in the flock and they should do what they can to get that flock tested.”

Shere also stressed following good biosecurity practices.

While the U.S. saw its most devastating outbreak of avian influenza in 2015, the virus reappeared but on a much less widespread basis in 2016 and during the early months of 2017.

There have been 14 cases of avian influenza reported in the United States in 2017. The first was in a wild duck in Montana, which was reported in January. Other cases in commercial and backyard poultry were reported in Wisconsin, Kentucky, Tennessee, Alabama and Georgia. Those cases were all reported in March.

WATTAgNet has provided an interactive map that displays key information for avian influenza incidents in 2017 with links to show more specific information about each case. Map views can be filtered to see a variety of criteria, including bird species, avian influenza strain and the type of operation affected.


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