Keep your birds indoors or in coops and cover their food and water.
The Kansas Department of Agriculture is making those suggestions after a contagious avian flu last week forced the destruction of a noncommercial mixed-species flock in Shawnee County.
“Analysis of this outbreak has shown that it is primarily spread by wild birds, so limiting exposure to wild birds is the best way to protect domestic birds,” said KDA spokeswoman Heather Landsdowne. “Keeping them indoors or in coops will limit that exposure, as will covering food and water sources so migratory birds can’t access them.”
KDA will only destroy flocks if HPAI is found in them
Last week, Shawnee County reported its first case of highly pathogenic avian influenza, also known as H5N1, a deadly and highly contagious form of bird flu, Landsdowne said.
The KDA destroyed all birds present and quarantined the facilities where the disease was found. said in a press release Thursday.
Federal guidelines require the destruction of all birds in any flock where HPAI has been detected to try to slow the spread of the disease and alleviate bird suffering, Landsdowne said.
The KDA did not identify the location of the flock other than to say it was in an area bounded by SE and SW 21st Street in the south, NE and NW 94th Street in the north, K-4 Highway in the east, and NW and SW Humphrey Street. . I walk in the west.
Landsdowne asked Thursday that anyone who owns poultry within those limits call the KDA, send an email or use an online self-report option that is available.
The KDA will only destroy flocks if laboratory tests confirm that the birds in the flock are infected, he said.
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KDA gets ‘great response’ from Shawnee County bird owners
For owners of flocks where HPAI is not found, Landsdowne said the KDA shares information with them about the symptoms of HPAI, how it spreads, how they can protect their birds and what they can do if they suspect their birds may be infected.
HPAI symptoms include coughing, sneezing, runny nose, and other signs of respiratory distress; lack of energy and appetite; decreased water consumption; decreased egg production and/or soft-shelled and misshapen eggs; lack of coordination; and diarrhea
As of Friday, the KDA had received a “great response” from owners of birds within the boundaries it identified Thursday in Shawnee County, through phone calls and through the online self-report option, Landsdowne said.
“We know you are concerned about the health of your birds and we appreciate your cooperation as we work together to try to slow the spread of HPAI in the state,” he said.
No commercial poultry operations were located within the boundaries of the ring-fenced area, although the KDA does not yet know how many backyard flocks are there, Landsdowne said.
“We do have contact information for some poultry owners that we have worked with in the past, but we hope that this informational effort will help us establish communication with other poultry owners in that area,” he said.
The area within the boundaries outlined by the KDA includes the Topeka Zoo, where animal curator Shanna Simpson said Saturday measures had been taken to protect her animals from HPAI.
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Where did the IAAP start?
HPAI causes severe illness and a high mortality rate in infected birds, according to USA Today.
The risk of disease transmission to the general public is low, public health officials say.
The HPAI H5N1 virus originated in Asia and, as of December 2003, caused high mortality in poultry and wild birds in Asia, the Middle East, Europe and Africa, according to the federal agency. Centers for Disease Control.
The virus was first detected in January 2015 in a wild duck in the US. the CDC said.
Wild birds can be infected with HPAI and show no signs of disease, according to the US Department of Agriculture.. Wild birds can carry the disease to new areas when they migrate during the spring and fall, potentially exposing domestic birds to the virus, he said.
How has Kansas been affected?
The KDA said HPAI was detected last March and April in one flock each in six Kansas counties, then emerged this fall in a noncommercial mixed-species flock each in three other Kansas counties, these being Johnson, Neosho and Shawnee.
All the birds in those flocks were destroyed.
All Kansas counties are susceptible to HPAI because the risk comes from wild birds that travel throughout the state, said Justin Smith, Kansas Animal Health Commissioner.
“If you haven’t already taken action to protect your backyard flocks, now is the time to take this threat seriously,” he said.
How has HPAI affected egg prices?
With the start of HPAI earlier this year, egg prices soared as commercial farmers were forced to cull entire flocks of chickens in an effort to slow its spread.
Retailers in the Midwest as of Friday were paying between $2.81 and $2.89 to buy a dozen Grade A large white eggs from farmers, the US Department of Agriculture reported online.
The price had been $1.25 per dozen last March, but rose to roughly its current level last April with the start of HPAI.
Contact Tim Hrenchir at email@example.com or 785-213-5934.