By Cheryl Anderson
DTN Staff Reporter
DAVENPORT, Neb. (DTN) -- Recent discoveries of the H5N2 avian flu in the U.S. have poultry producer groups and government agencies stressing observation and testing to help prevent spreading the disease.
The H5N2 strain has been found in Minnesota, Missouri, Arkansas, Oregon, Washington and Idaho.
The U.S. Poultry and Egg Association suggests poultry producers shore up their biosecurity practices, according to Rafael Rivera, USPEA food safety and production manager.
"We are advising producers to review their biosecurity program and make sure there are no gaps," Rivera said. "The biggest thing is traffic control -- making sure they know the people coming in and out of their farm."
Rivera told DTN that although most commercial flocks are raised in buildings and face little risk from wild birds, anyone who has been in contact with any wild birds or backyard flocks presents a risk, as well as any type of equipment brought onto the farm.
"Whatever equipment goes into a farm must be cleaned and disinfected," he said.
The association has funded the development of a biosecurity training DVD titled "Infectious Disease Risk Management: Practical Biosecurity Resources for Commercial Poultry Producers."
"This is an education DVD that can be used for training in various settings, such as employee training, but also gives basic information on how to start a biosecurity program," Rivera said. "It covers breeders, hatcheries, turkeys, broilers and egg laying farms."
The DVD is available free of charge through the association's website (http://bit.ly/…).
PREVENTION IS THE BEST PROTECTION
Prevention is the best method of protecting flocks from avian flu. Prevention methods include keeping wild birds away from flocks, avoiding moving animals from farm to farm, restricting traffic on and off the farm, staying informed about any outbreaks in neighboring animals and notifying a veterinarian of any suspected disease.
Strict biosecurity measures should be followed. Bringing new animals onto the farm presents a huge risk factor, according to an Avian Influenza Biosecurity Practices fact sheet (http://1.usa.gov/…) published by the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service. New animals should be isolated for 30 days before allowed contact with other birds. Any birds that have been off the farm for exhibitions, shows, petting zoos, etc., should also be isolated for 30 days.
Any tires or equipment entering the farm that have been in contact with other animals or manure should be thoroughly cleaned and disinfected before being allowed onto the farm, especially equipment, tools or supplies shared with neighbors or other poultry owners.
The APHIS fact sheet also recommends restricting access to property, having only one area where visitors are allowed, and either prohibiting visitors from areas near livestock or requiring them to wear disposable footwear or clothing. Producers should also maintain strict biosecurity procedures for employees and family.
Poultry producers also need to be aware that hunters can also pose a risk to their flocks. Hunting dogs should not be allowed access to flocks without being decontaminated, and any hunters entering the farmyard need to clean and sanitize their vehicles. Care should also be taken to dispose of harvest byproducts properly to avoid contamination of scavenging birds.
Producers should also be on the lookout for signs of avian flu, which according to the Kansas Department of Agriculture Avian Influenza Fact Sheet (http://1.usa.gov/…), can include cough, sneezing, respiratory distress, decrease in egg production and sudden death.
Sick animals should be reported to a veterinarian, local extension office or state or federal animal health officials. For questions, USDA is maintaining a toll-free hotline (866-536-7593) for free help from veterinarians.
Cheryl Anderson can be reached at email@example.com
Follow her on Twitter @CherylADTN
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