How could avian flu hurt your chickens? What is it?

How could avian flu hurt your chickens? What is it

You’re concerned about the effects of the latest avian influenza outbreak on your backyard flock after hearing about it on the news.

What is avian flu, how does it spread, and what is its history?

It’s difficult. Like many viruses, strains are constantly changing, and seasonal and geographic variations can affect patterns. The information that follows has been greatly simplified, yet it is all that we require to keep our flocks safe. It’s essentially a type of flu also referred to as “avian influenza.” Technically speaking, it’s referred to as a “zoonotic virus,” which denotes that it can infect people while typically being carried by animals, in this case, birds.


It is well recognized that wild birds, particularly shorebirds like gulls and waterfowl like ducks and geese, are the main carriers and spreaders of bird flu. When wild birds migrate during the winter, it poses a special risk to backyard chicken colonies at certain times.

The avian flu comes in a wide variety. The H5N1 and H7N9 viruses are the most prevalent and contagious known to afflict poultry. Birds with the virus disseminate it through their saliva, nasal secretions, and droppings and carry it in their digestive and respiratory systems. When other birds come into contact with those fluids or any place where they have been left, they become diseased.


What impact does avian flu have on chickens?

The two main advantages of avian flu are:

  • Mild Pathogenic Bird Flu (LPAI)
  • Virus with High Pathogenicity in Birds (HPAI)

Both have a rapid spread among flocks, although as their names imply, LPAI is less harmful to hens than HPAI. Regrettably, LPAI can and frequently does switch to HPAI.

The most frequent form to initially affect backyard flocks is transmission of LPAI. You might not even notice the extremely mild symptoms that it produces.
Your birds may be sitting slumped, seeming a little defeated, and having their feathers ruffled. You can observe a decrease in egg production or an increase in the number of soft-shelled eggs. Of fact, those symptoms could indicate a wide range of issues.


On the other side, HPAI creates a serious illness that affects the internal organs of hens. It results in death in 48 hours or less, and the mortality rate ranges from 90% to 100%. In other words, the HPAI strain of bird flu spreads quickly and always results in death.

What symptoms do hens with the HPAI bird flu type show?

The following are signs of the highly virulent strain of avian influenza:


  • The neck and throat have a recognizable blue color.
  • enlarged head
  • discharge coming from the nose and eyes
  • respiratory distress characterized by sneezing, coughing, and panting
  • gaping beak and gurgling
  • Diarrhoea
  • reduced appetite
  • eggs, or none at all
  • Death

Can hens with avian influenza be treated?

No, is the short answer — even for the Reduced Pathogenic strain.

The issue is that LPAI can and frequently does transform into HPAI (1). They are both quite contagious. So, every type of avian influenza is thought to have a high chance for death in neighboring individuals as well as the affected flock. There is no therapy. The entire flock must be culled if avian flu is found to be present. Here, there is no room for compromise. If there is any chance that other flocks, especially backyard flocks, have also contracted the disease, they will be closely monitored and confined.


How does the human avian flu virus spread?

Similar to other influenza strains, contact with an infected source is the primary method of transmission to humans. In other words, you might be more likely to get bird flu if you come into contact with an infected chicken. You are more prone to contract the disease if you have more contacts over a longer period of time.

It’s uncommon but not unheard of. It is possible to contract the disease by touching your eyes, nose, or mouth after coming into contact with contaminated birds, droppings, bedding, or other surfaces, or by inhaling infected droplets from the air or dust. It’s that easy. Eggs or chicken that has been prepared properly cannot transmit the avian flu. Of course, eating diseased birds is a another story.


Might it kill people?

The strains that are prevalent in Europe, America, and Australia are not known to be lethal. There are more strains in Asia and Africa. Like with every influenza strain, those most at risk are the young and old, those managing chronic conditions, women who are expecting, and those working in emergency response who may be exposed to the sickness for an extended length of time.


Can avian influenza be cured in humans?

Because they are different strains, there is no vaccination for avian flu and the standard flu shot won’t protect you from it either. There is some extremely weak evidence that antiviral medications help shorten the duration of symptoms, but studies are currently being conducted.

Protecting your own herd

  • Use good husbandry practices. Keep in mind that even birds that appear healthy might contain the Low Pathogenic strain of avian flu.
  • Keep wild birds away from your chicken run as much as you can. They frequently approach in search of food, so buy a feeder that keeps them out (you’ll also save money on wasted feed!). A grain spill should always be cleaned up.
  • Chickens and waterfowl should not be mixed. If you keep your own waterfowl, such as ducks and geese, be sure that their pond doesn’t draw in wild birds. Recognize when wild birds migrate and keep an eye out for their setting up residence.
  • Install fencing if necessary to keep hens in the coop and run or to keep waterbirds in the area around the pond. So that the pond won’t attract migratory birds, add netting around it.
  • Always wash your hands after handling your hens or any feeders, waterers, surfaces, etc., as well as your coop and run. Use a mask when handling bedding.
  • It doesn’t have to be a surgical kind, anything like this mask would serve just fine. It’s okay as long as it keeps dust from getting in your mouth and nose.
  • If your coop doesn’t have running water, keep a bottle of hand sanitizer there. Alcohol at a minimum of 60% will aid in the treatment of several ailments.
  • Something like this, which has additional moisturizer to balance off the 70% alcohol, is good.
  • Maintain a clean environment by cleaning and disinfecting paths and walkways at least once a week.
  • tame the rats. Although there is no proof that rats may spread the avian flu, they could do so by licking infected surfaces.
  • Always isolate new birds for at least ten days before allowing them to interact with the flock as a whole. During that time, look out for any symptoms of disease.
  • The least possible amount of people should enter and exit your run, and any footwear that has come into touch with droppings should be cleaned.
  • If there are any sizable commercial poultry farms nearby, keep an eye out for any signs of illness outbreaks, including bird flu.
  • The conditions in these farms, which can cram hundreds of thousands of birds into a small space, are frequently appalling, and disease frequently originates there and spreads nearby.


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