Avian flu carries dangers for backyard chicken flocks

Virus carries dangers for backyard chickens

An outbreak of avian flu in Dubois County in southern Indiana isn’t affecting Bartholomew County, but the local Purdue Extension advises those with backyard poultry flocks to practice biosecurity procedures carefully.

Kris Medic, extension educator for Purdue Extension in Bartholomew County, said most commercial poultry producers already know those precautions, but those with backyard chickens might not.

Precautions include:

•Wash your hands before and after working with a flock.

•Wear a specific set of clothes such as a coverall and specific shoes when working with the poultry, which needs to be taken off before entering your home.

•Don’t visit with other backyard chicken enthusiasts to prevent any contamination between flocks. Medic said large poultry producers already practice this, but families with backyard flocks may not know the hazards.

Signs to watch for in poultry:

•Sudden death without clinical signs

•Lack of energy or coordination or appetite and decreased egg production

•Soft-shelled or misshapen eggs

•Swelling or purple discoloration of head eyelids, combs, hocks and nasal discharge, coughing or sneezing and diarrhea

Backyard poultry owners are encouraged to know the signs of avian flu and report any poultry illness or death to the U.S. Department of Agriculture at 866-536-7593.

To learn more, visit healthybirds.aphis.usda.gov.