Poultry farmers encouraged to take biosecurity measures after bird flu detected in Virginia
HARRISONBURG, Va. (WHSV) - Poultry farmers around the Shenandoah Valley are encouraged to take biosecurity measures after an outbreak of bird flu was detected in a backyard flock of mixed-species birds in Fauquier County, Virginia earlier this week.
The Virginia Poultry Federation in Harrisonburg says that wild birds like ducks and geese are the primary carriers of the disease.
“It looks like it’s pretty extensive throughout the eastern part of the United States in wild birds. It can be in their droppings so the bottom line is you want to segregate your domestic poultry from any exposure to wild birds,” said Hobey Bauhan, the president of the Virginia Poultry Federation.
Bauhan said there are a number of security measures poultry farmers and backyard flock owners can take to protect their birds from the disease.
“Make sure that you’re doing maintenance around rodent control and the security of your poultry barns so that nothing can get in there that might be bringing along the virus,” said Bauhan.
Bauhan says it’s also important to use properly cleaned boots when entering a poultry house and to restrict all non-essential visitors to your poultry house.
“It’s not a great idea to be sharing equipment, but if you are utilizing any shared equipment or even any equipment that’s been outside make sure that it’s properly cleaned and disinfected before it’s used in your poultry house,” he added.
It’s also very important that anyone with sick or dying birds contact the state veterinarian’s office.
“If there’s a drop in egg production for laying flocks, if poultry seem to be depressed or exhibiting any respiratory symptoms, those kinds of things. It’s better just to check it out and be sure,” said Bauhan.
According to the Virginia Poultry Federation, it’s important to take a proactive approach in preventing the disease, citing a previous outbreak of bird flu in the Shenandoah Valley that devastated the local economy.
“We had an outbreak in 2002 of low pathogenic avian influenza that infected 197 poultry farms in Virginia, I think it was around 4.7 million turkeys and chickens, and it was absolutely devastating to the local economy and to the farmers,” said Bauhan.
Anyone who thinks their birds may be sick with the bird flu is encouraged to contact the state veterinarian’s office at 804-692-0604.
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