I got NPIP tested recently. My state does it for free, and I have a nice flock of pure birds that I want to sell eggs and birds from, shipping if needed. It's a simple process, the state comes, gets small amounts of blood and tests it for a variety of illness. Here, in Kansas, they also test turkeys and chickens for Avian Influenza, A.I. for short. It's also a simple test, grab a bird, the mouth gets opened, and the throat swabbed. It's painless, if a bit startling for the birds. I didn't give it much thought, until I got a call a few days later. One housed flock of chickens, and 2 turkeys tested positive for A.I.
After birds are swapped, the sample is place or rubbed inside this labeled container (so we know which bird it is)
I did a quick Internet search, and the first things you get is information on the human effecting Avian Influenza. Very scary. What this is, is a VERY FEW strains (and there are many many many strains of influenza for humans and birds alike) of A.I. that will effect humans. "Humans can be infected with influenza types A, B, and C viruses. Subtypes of influenza A that are currently circulating among people worldwide include H1N1, and H3N2 viruses." (http://www.cdc.gov/flu/avian/gen-info/flu-viruses.htm) I was very worried, but when I talked to the state tester (a certified veterinarian) about what this mean for the future of my birds, he told me we needed to retest again in 3 weeks. This allows the birds time to recover from mild forms of A.I. If they tested negative, my problems were over, if they still had A.I. more testing would be needed to determine how to proceed.
When they came back to retest, I asked them lots of questions while my birds opened up and said "awww" for another round of throat swabbing. I would like to share this information with you.
1. Most forms of A.I. are harmless to the birds and people alike.
2. The influenza virus can change forms to something that effects people, but its unlikely.
3. If the A.I. strains tested had been one identified as human potential infections, the state would have rapidly collected my birds. (yes, death)
4. If birds are tested positive for A.I., once they test negative a few weeks later, it is acceptable then to sell eggs and hatch-lings, but not before then. YOU MUST KEEP A CLOSED FLOCK UNTIL YOU ARE TOLD ITS OK AFTER A POSITIVE A.I. TEST. Do not sell eggs, chicks, or birds until you are cleared to do so.
5. THE CARRIERS OF A.I. are wild birds, most of the time. http://www.fao.org/docrep/010/a1521e/a1521e00.htm and http://wwwnc.cdc.gov/eid/article/16/12/10-0589_article.htm HOWEVER, waterfowl such as ducks and geese, are very likely candidates to become infected, and pass it on to your chickens and turkeys if they are together, or ever are together, in common areas. If they EVER use the same space, even if not at the same time, your birds are at risk.
6. A positive A.I. test is NOT death sentence, so don't panic. Remember, its extremely common, and most wild birds and waterfowl escape unaffected.
7. A.I. can absolutely kill your chickens and turkeys, but not usually. Some experience lethargy and slack eating or reduced egg laying, but most recover quickly. Sometimes, though, entire flocks will be decimated by serious strains. Chickens and Turkeys are especially sensitive. Look for messed up swollen eyes and faces, diarhea, and unexplained bleeding in severe cases. Wear gloves to handle them and seperate them. Best to bag them up and burn them if one dies.
8. Most human A.I. crops up in very large groups of birds, where few or no efforts are made to prevent wild bird or waterfowl from contaminating the chickens or turkeys.
Now, there are some things you can do to help prevent A.I. in your turkeys and chickens. First, keep them in such a way that wild birds cannot eat from feed pans or drink from water. A cover over your pen can also help keep out wild bird fecal matter. Next, try to keep ducks and geese in places the chickens and turkeys don't go, and vice versa.
This open pond is open to wild birds, which can infect your waterfowl
I have ducks and geese, and this winter, I allowed many different species to hang out in a large protected common pen. This is almost certainly how my chicken flock and those two turkeys got A.I. in the first place. Ducks and geese get A.I. from wild birds most often. Waterfowl are kept in more open spaces, they need more space. Naturally, birds use their water, eat their food, and defecate in both places, transferring A.I. to the waterfowl. The waterfowl interacting in common spaces with turkeys and chickens passes the A.I. onto them. If its mild, they recover and you never know they were sick. If its moderate to severe, a few to a great many birds die. If you begin losing chickens and turkeys in quantity, please get tested ASAP, before you pass on this severe form from your shoes to other birds. Don't allow anyone who owns birds to come into your bird yards.
Its important to prevent cross contamination. When state testers come, before moving around my place, they immediately dressed in white suites from the the ground to hands to neck and head. They wear double gloves, in case the first tears or punctures. They DO NOT allow any chance of themselves carrying something to my flock, or my birds from sharing with the next testees. Follow their plan, never never bring illness to your flock, or bring it to other flocks. It's not fair, and its a horribly selfish act to do anything else.
Now, birds always "have" A.I. if they've gotten it. After a time, they won't transfer A.I. (like you with a cold or flue, the immunity is there forever since you had it, but you stop being contagious after a moderate amount of time) According to the center for disease control "In general, direct human infection with avian influenza viruses occurs very infrequently, and has been associated with direct contact (e.g., touching) infected sick or dead infected birds (domestic poultry)." If you are very concerned, your choices are to wait and retest, or you can dispatch the infected fowl.
"Only influenza A viruses infect birds, and all known subtypes of influenza A viruses can infect birds. However, there are substantial genetic differences between the influenza A subtypes that typically infect birds and those that infect both people and birds. Three prominent subtypes of the avian influenza A viruses that are known to infect both birds and people are:
Influenza A H5
Nine potential subtypes of H5 are known. H5 infections, such as HPAI H5N1 viruses currently circulating in Asia and Europe, have been documented among humans and sometimes cause severe illness or death.
Influenza A H7
Nine potential subtypes of H7 are known. H7 infection in humans is rare but can occur among persons who have direct contact with infected birds. Symptoms may include conjunctivitis and/or upper respiratory symptoms. H7 viruses have been associated with both LPAI (e.g., H7N2, H7N7) and HPAI (e.g., H7N3, H7N7), and have caused mild to severe and fatal illness in humans.
Influenza A H9
Nine potential subtypes of H9 are known; influenza A H9 has rarely been reported to infect humans. However, this subtype has been documented only in a low pathogenic form."
It is not uncommon for people to make the decision to destroy a flock after a positive AI test, just out of concern. The eggs (if they are still laying) are edible, and won't make you sick. You can also dress and consume cooked poultry after infection safely, if they do not have visible signs of illness. Do not consume sick appearing birds. If you have an important flock, but you want an A.I. free flock completely, the state vet recommends actually washing the eggs, and then dipping for 30 seconds into a very mild bleach solution. (1 tsp to 1 gallon of cool to lukewarm water) then rinse very well. Dry immediatly. Hatch only in a very well cleaned incubator. Do NOT allow A.I. infected hens to brood offspring. You much use very clean eggs hatched in a clean environment, and then brooded in disposable boxes or containers.
If you've had infected birds and move them out or get rid of them, you are going to have to clean and disinfect your hen house. Thoroughly removed all fecal matter, bedding material, and any organic items (feed, straw, feathers, poop, etc). Now, rinse or wash down every single surface with a disinfectant following package directions. Allow it to sit recommended amount of time to work, then rinse if needed, and allow to dry. Sunshine will decontaminate ground and grasses, given full access and time. You must do this before introducing new A.I. free birds, or they too may become infected.
If you keep waterfowl with your chickens or turkeys, consider having them A.I. tested first, but remember, so long as wild birds can access food and water, they will have it. Then, so will your turkeys and chickens. The state inspector strongly suggested my chickens and turkeys were infected from contact with waterfowl areas. The birds that did not have access to waterfowl areas were A.I. free the first test and subsequent retest. (If you test positive, all your birds will be tested again, infected and uninfected....uninfected first to prevent contamination.)
Birds are safe to eat, once cooked to an internal temperature of 165*F for 15 seconds
Happily, my re-test for A.I. came back completely clean. Still, I have chosen to dress the infected birds. From now on, my chickens and turkeys will NEVER have access to my waterfowl yards again. I have all ready made new pens and moved the unaffected chickens and turkeys for their safety, and the safety of other flocks.