REYNOLDSBURG, Ohio – The highly contagious animal disease avian influenza, which is generally harmless to humans but can quickly devastate a poultry farm, is caused by a virus that is easily spread to birds from other birds and from crates, equipment, trucks, and even the shoes of people exposed to the disease.
In Ohio, a flock infected with the virus would be quarantined immediately and likely ordered to be destroyed to contain the disease.
Precautions. To minimize the possibility of contracting the disease on Ohio farms, Ohio Agriculture Director Fred Dailey recommends producers implement the following precautions:
* Look for unusual signs of illness such as “snicking,” or sneezing, or at least a 1 percent decrease in egg production or increase in mortality. Immediately report signs of infection to your veterinarian or to the Ohio Department of Agriculture by calling, toll-free, 800-300-9755.
* Avoid traveling to Virginia or North Carolina, states where the disease has been detected. If you absolutely must go, be sure to wash and disinfect vehicles and launder clothing before returning home.
* Persons can carry the virus in their respiratory tracts. If you know you have been in a poultry house in an outbreak area or otherwise exposed to the virus, do not enter another poultry house for three to five days.
* Keep unauthorized visitors out of poultry houses, a good practice whether or not there is a disease threat. Authorized persons must wear protective clothing and shoes before entering a house.
* If persons must enter poultry houses – such as industry or utility service people, regulatory inspectors, feed trucks, or mortality collectors – keep a record of who they are, their telephone numbers, where they last visited, and where they’re going next.
* Wear poultry house shoes and clothing only in poultry houses and nowhere else. Change clothes before going to another multi-house complex on the same farm.
* Avoid contact with wild waterfowl – they may be carriers of avian influenza viruses. Keep waterfowl away from poultry houses and do not dress waterfowl anywhere on a poultry farm.
* Because they present an increased risk of exposure, avoid contact with backyard flocks of chickens, ducks, geese, and other birds. Avoid contact with live-bird markets, swap meets, and poultry exhibitions, or wait three to five days to re-enter your poultry houses.
* Do not borrow or loan farm vehicles or equipment without cleaning and disinfection before and after use.
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