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How to answer the Avian Flu questions that people ask?

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by Nifty-Chicken, Feb 3, 2007.

  1. Nifty-Chicken

    Nifty-Chicken Administrator Staff Member

    Hey Gang,

    With the most recent outbreak of the avian bird flu / H5N1 virus (2,000 turkeys in UK died from it) there are bound to be more questions from neighbors, friends & coworkers about keeping our own backyard chickens.

    When you've been asked questions about avian flu as it relates to your flock, how do you respond?
     
  2. MTchick

    MTchick Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Their are a couple things about bird flu epidemiology that are really helpful to know when answering questions;

    1) most bird flu is *bird only* flu- not transmissable to humans. So even if your flock gets bird flu, the chances of it being the kind that transmits to humans is extreeeeeemely low.

    2) most bird flu outbreaks are caused by migrating waterfowl. If you birds are free range, this is potentially an issue. If they are confined to a fenced backyard, it is really unlikely a random sick duck will land in your garden and cough on your chickens.

    3) most bird flu breakouts take place in huge factory-style farms OR third world countries. This is due to poor hygiene amd tight bird-raising quarters. Just like preschoolers get more colds once they are exposed to lots of other kids in kindergarten, birds in large groups that share food and water are more likely to spread diseases, not matter what those diseases are.

    I don't even have chickens yet but I've already been asked about West Nile and Bird Flu! Luckily I'm a bird researcher and I can rattle off a few concepts that make people feel more secure about small scale bird raising.

    -MTchick
     
    1 person likes this.
  3. Henriettahen

    Henriettahen Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I'm not sure...but I like this thread..I was wondering about that earlier. I was thinking " how do these backyard chicken people cope with all this avian bird flu stuff"

    this thread answers that question I had:p
     
  4. Nifty-Chicken

    Nifty-Chicken Administrator Staff Member

    So... I shouldn't let my chickens hang out with pre-schoolers or kindergarteners? LOL [​IMG][​IMG]

    Thanks MTchick, some excellent information and very well stated.

    Let's keep this discussion going as I'm sure many of us (especially those of us in a city dwelling) will continue to get these questions.
     
  5. eggchel

    eggchel Overrun With Chickens Premium Member

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    What I find worrisome about the bird flu is that aside from the factory farm out breaks, the people who seem to be getting the flu are children and others who live in close quarters with their birds...... not unlike many of us. Most of us spend a lot of time with our birds, handling them, playing with them, cleaning their waterers, feeders, coops. Similar to the amount of contact those third world folks have with their chickens. We may have better hygiene in general, but we have the same or even more close contact with our birds. My birds travel for hours at a time with me in the car going to shows. I bathe them and blow dry them and keep them in the house to warm up. I pick them up and carry them around.... the same way those third world children do. When the transmissible version of the bird flu reaches us, I think those of us with pet chickens and/or small flocks that free range, may be at more risk than our government will tell us or than we want to believe.


    chel

    <hates cooties>
     
  6. Nifty-Chicken

    Nifty-Chicken Administrator Staff Member

    Chel, that's a good perspective. I think an honest look at the facts without sugar coating is the way to go.

    Personally I think there are some facts that put us at less risk in some areas and more risk in others (when compared to 3rd world countries and factory farms).

    I agree, the amount we handle our birds is one point, and also how much our birds could potentially come into contact with migratory / other infected birds is another.

    Sheesh, with "mad cow disease" and avian flu... all we need now is fish typhoid fever and we'll all be vegetarians! [​IMG]
     
  7. MTchick

    MTchick Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Chel-

    I think you have a good point, but not a scary one. I just spent a while looking at articles that pertain to bird flu transmission, and have an idea to add in regards to your post. The way that flu seems to get from birds to people a bit graphic; direct handling of body parts or fluids from infected birds, and inhalation or ingestion of the feces of infected birds. This suggests that the super-clean environments that most people who show birds or even just keep small flocks maintain is perfect for avoidance of transmission by feces. Likewise, the daily contact and familiarity with show birds or small flocks would go a long way towards avoiding contact with sick bird fluids; I would argue that if your bird got sick, you'd know very fast, seek more information, and so forth. You probably would not slaughter it and ingest its uncooked blood (the way that bird-human transmission occasionally occurs in SE Asia).

    The big scary thing that may be driving bird flu movement that I just learned about is poor washing practices in farm equipment; like muddy-feces covered truck tires, or containminated feed. To avoid this as a potential spreading method to your flock, though, is easy! Keep your vehicles, clothes and shoes clean, and buy from clean and good reputation food suppliers. I think that is common sense for all bird diseases, so it should not be something that anyone would balk at.

    I have a tough time imagining this scenario, but here it is; someone at a bird show brings a chicken with a bad case of the sniffles. They track its feces around the show on their dirty shoes. You get those feces on your shoes. You go home, walk to your coop in the same shoes, and inadvertantly spread the germs into your backyard. Your chicken taste-tests the dirt as usual, and ingests the feces. They get sick. The rest of the flock catches it...

    But remember! The vast majority of bird flu is- BIRD flu. Not people-bird flu.

    You are SOOOOOO much more likely to get in a car accident. Or have a heart attack. Or have raccoons raid your coop. Or stray dogs. Good lord, it is a wonder we all survive in this world at all! [​IMG]

    -MTchick
     
  8. BeckyLa

    BeckyLa Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jan 11, 2007
    N. Louisiana
    Uh, Rob, fish have pollution from rivers and lakes. Then there are the mercury issues. And deep water ocean fish? Even the oceans are pollluted so....

    And since water (irrigation, watering) and even rain water and soil is polluted, what about the veggies?

    (I'm not being alarmist, but we all know it's true. I don't worry about this stuff anymore, I'm only going to live as long as the Lord allows anyway.)

    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Feb 4, 2007
  9. bigzio

    bigzio Overrun With Chickens

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    I tell people that biosecurity is very important and practiced on a daily basis here.

    I follow all the guidelines that the USDA recommends and more, doing everything possible to maintain and keep a healthy flock. [​IMG]

    bigzio
     
  10. eggchel

    eggchel Overrun With Chickens Premium Member

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    Okay, Im gonna be in trouble cuz just in one day, I broke up a fight between two birds and got blood on my hands (which are chapped and cracked), was bitten by a cockerel who didnt want to come out of his quarantine cage, cleaned feces off at least 4 waterers, cleaned out (and no doubt inhaled dust from) dusty poop filled shavings from several cages, came in contact with at least one bird's drool while inspecting feet (turned bird upside down) handled and carried around several birds, no doubt tracked bird poop into the house on my shoes, and ate their eggs over easy with runny yolks. Plus today Im cooking a duck for dinner. Arrrrrrrgh! LOL

    chel
     

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