Earlier this year, we experienced this country’s largest outbreak of highly pathogenic avian influenza, affecting more than 200 commercial and backyard poultry flocks. While there have been no new cases since mid-June, we ask that all poultry owners stay alert and be vigilant. This virus can be carried by wild waterfowl (who do not get sick from it). The fall migration is underway, so these migratory ducks, geese and other birds have the potential to bring the virus with them anywhere in the country. It doesn’t mean they will – but they could. So if you own or handle poultry, it is essential to follow good biosecurity practices at all times.
What is biosecurity? Biosecurity means taking some simple steps to keep your birds away from germs AND germs away from your birds. If you follow good biosecurity, you will help ensure your birds remain healthy. As part of good biosecurity, you should prevent contact between your birds and wild birds, and report sick birds or unusual bird deaths to State/Federal officials, either through the state veterinarian or through USDA’s toll-free number: 1-866-536-7593.
For backyard bird owners, there are 6 simple steps to biosecurity:
- Keep your distance – Isolate your birds from visitors and other birds.
- Keep it clean – Prevent germs from spreading by cleaning shoes, tools and equipment.
- Don’t haul disease home – Also clean vehicles and cages.
- Don’t borrow disease from your neighbor – Avoid sharing tools and equipment with neighbors.
- Know the warning signs of infectious bird diseases – Watch for early signs to prevent the spread of disease.
- Report sick birds – Report unusual signs of disease or unexpected deaths.
We encourage commercial producers to take a biosecurity self-assessment and receive additional guidance.
You can now order a FREE copy of the 2016 Biosecurity for Birds calendar. This calendar provides helpful tips and information, including images of signs of illness to watch for in your birds. Order your copy online today using item number PA-2171.
Do you have great photos of your poultry you’d like to see featured in a future calendar? You can submit those online as well.