Poultry Owners Urged to Help Prevent Outbreak of Avian Influenza

When the temperature drops, the risk of avian influenza rises. The Tennessee Department of Agriculture is advising poultry owners to take precautions to safeguard their flocks.

Avian influenza has not been detected in any domesticated poultry in Tennessee in 2018. However, in March 2017, strains of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) and low pathogenic avian influenza (LPAI) sickened three commercial chicken breeder flocks in the state. The affected premises were quarantined and the flocks depopulated to prevent spread of the illness.

Avian influenza circulates naturally among the wild bird population and can be deadly to domesticated poultry. Biosecurity is the term used to describe steps taken to protect your birds from disease.

“This cold weather creates the perfect environment for avian influenza to thrive,” State Veterinarian Dr. Charles Hatcher said. “We know it can happen here, and are prepared to respond immediately to an outbreak. We are counting on poultry owners to practice good biosecurity and to report any spike in mortality. Protecting backyard and commercial flocks is critical for livestock health and safety in Tennessee.”

Dr. Hatcher’s recommendations include:

  • Always disinfect shoes, tools, vehicles, and equipment used with poultry and avoid sharing items with neighbors
  • Prevent wild birds and animals from accessing flock areas
  •  Enroll in the National Poultry Improvement Plan
  • Watch for signs of illness and report any unusual deaths to the state veterinarian’s office at 615-837-5120

The state veterinarian and staff are focused on animal health and disease prevention. In 2017, the Kord Animal Health lab tested more than 31,000 samples from poultry for avian influenza. If avian influenza is detected, Tennessee has a response plan which includes quarantine, testing, disposal, cleaning, disinfection and monitoring. For more information, please visit the avian influenza resources page.

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