Last week officials with Tennessee Department of Agriculture issued a Poultry Health Advisory to all owners of poultry to be exceedingly diligent in protecting their birds from disease. The advisory was, said State Veterinarian Dr. Charles Hatcher, prompted by the discovery of H7N9 highly pathogenic avian influenza, or HPAI, in a commercial flock in Lincoln County.
A day later those same officials confirmed a second case of HPAI–this one also in Lincoln County and less than 2 miles away.
This virus is contagious within flocks but poses no risk to our food supply. (Officials did stress that no sick birds were known to have been processed as food.) However, because it is so contagious to birds, experts say the only real option is to destroy all sick birds.
Preventing HPAI In Your Birds
Hatcher released a list of suggestions for reducing your chances of introducing HPAI into your flock. Some of those suggestions include:
- Watch your flock and report any sudden increase of sick or dead birds.
- Don’t transport your birds, allow them to comingle or have contact with wild birds.
- Don’t show your birds at shows, fairs or sales.
Many of these tips overlap with the US Department of Agriculture’s guidelines for flock biosecurity. In addition to the tips mentioned above, the USDA also suggests steps like:
- Watch your birds and be proactive to stop disease spread.
- Regularly clean your shoes, tools and equipment and avoid sharing tools with other poultry owners.
- If you do transport birds, clean your vehicle and your cages.
Despite having a similar name, this is not the China H7N9 virus that can sicken humans.
Photos courtesy Tennessee Department of Agriculture photographer Boyd Barker