Avian Influenza or Bird Flu in Poultry

Avian Influenza or Bird Flu in Poultry

Bird flu, Avian influenza, is a highly contagious viral respiratory illness that affects birds. This virus is present in wild aquatic birds and can affect domestic poultry, especially chickens, turkeys, ducks, etc., and other birds including humans. Avian influenza in poultry is worth knowing and understanding because of its rapid growth and fatal nature.

Though the scientists are not clear about the exact origin of this deadly disease, it is believed that wild aquatic birds carry it without showing any signs of illness.  They shed this virus through saliva, nasal secretions, and feces. Birds or poultry when they come in contact with it become infected.

Causes of Avian Influenza in Poultry

The primary cause of avian influenza in poultry is exposure to the virus. This can happen through various ways, including:

  • Direct contact

When healthy poultry comes in contact with Infected birds directly, virus can spread very easily.  Some of the means of direct contact are sharing feed, shelter, and water among both infected and healthy poultry.

  • Indirect contact

It is important to remember that the virus can survive for considerably long periods in the environment, contaminating equipment, clothing, vehicles, and even dust particles. And when these come in contact with healthy spaces or farms and poultry, it can spread easily affecting healthy poultry with this dangerous and deadly virus.

  • Wild birds

And finally, as we know aquatic wild birds naturally carry this virus within them.  When they are either migrating or when healthy poultry comes in contact with an infected bird’s saliva, respiratory secretions, and feces, they get infected and the virus affects these healthy flocks.

Some of the other causes that can facilitate the spread of bird flu among poultry are:

  • Increased risk of avian influenza outbreaks during migration seasons
  • Poultry farming practices, where large numbers of birds are staying in small farm areas

Avian Flu Symptoms in Poultry

Though the severity of bird flu symptoms in poultry can vary, some of the following symptoms can help you understand the onset of bird flu in your poultry.  Regular checks of your poultry and thorough observations can help you identify the infection.  Contact your local veterinarian immediately to avoid further spread within the healthy flocks.

  • Mild respiratory signs like coughing, sneezing, and nasal discharge
  • Difficulty in breathing
  • Lethargy
  • Lack of coordination
  • Facial swelling
  • Diarrhea
  • Loss of appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Week immune system
  • Purple or blue discoloration of the comb, wattles, legs, and feet
  • Decreased egg production
  • Decreased egg quality
  • Sudden death

Identifying Avian Influenza in Poultry

There are qualitative and quantitative ways to identify infection of avian influenza in poultry.  Remember, once the poultry is identified with infection, may it be observational, immediately quarantine infected chickens to avoid further spread of infection in healthy poultry.

  • Qualitative way of identifying avian influenza in chickens
  • Regular, thorough observation of the presence of the above-mentioned symptoms
  • Quantitative way of identifying bird flu

Quantitative analysis for the presence of the virus in:

  • blood samples
  • tissue samples
  • respiratory secretions
  • In cases of death, post-mortem examination of the internal organs of poultry infected by bird flu

Treatment of Avian Influenza in Poultry

Well, as of now, there is no known specific treatment for avian influenza in poultry. However, some of the qualitative and quantitative strategies can help reduce the further spread of the infection.  Following the suggestions mentioned below, though may not provide complete protection, but will help to manage the spread within other healthy chickens on your farm.

  • Always vaccinate your poultry to prevent infection.
  • Vaccination helps reduce the severity of symptoms in healthy birds
  • Follow strict measures by restricting access to poultry farms
  • Regularly disinfect equipment used
  • Provide a controlled environment
  • Provide healthy feed
  • Ensure to add poultry feed supplements
  • Feed supplements that have a balanced amount of immunity boosters, minerals, vitamins, proteins, antioxidants, and amino acids. These ingredients help boost the immunity of poultry providing them with better resistance power to fight the infections
  • Provide proper ventilation and access to clean drinkable water for hydration

Poultry Feed Supplements

It’s a fact that poultry feed supplements cannot treat bird flu, but can help enhance the immune system of your flocks.  With a good immune system, the chances of poultry getting infected can be reduced.  Refit Animal Care is working towards providing high-quality, well-researched, and branded poultry feed supplements at cost-effective rates.  Use these feed supplements along with regular feed and possibly try to make them less susceptible to infections. Remember, poultry feed supplements are in no way an option or a treatment to avoid infections.  But, it helps to have healthy flocks which have better immune systems and good resistance power to save themselves from infections. Ensure to consult with a qualified local veterinarian before adding any supplements to poultry feed.

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