Even with these measures in place, cases are still being announced by the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) almost daily. Across the country many UK poultry farmers have suffered the loss of their flocks through depopulation. This has had financial implications and caused substantial operational downtime, as well as affecting the mental health of workers and farm owners.
What is avian influenza in brief
Avian influenza is a pathogen, and is classed as either highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) or low pathogenic avian influenza (LPAI). The viruses are determined by their antigen determinants, a molecule or molecular structure which is recognised by the immune system. These are classed as H (for haemagglutinin) and N (neuraminidase). The strain currently decimating UK poultry flocks is a highly pathogenic H5N1.
If left unchecked the LPAI H5 and H7 viruses can mutate into the HPAI form. Many wild birds carry the virus with no ill effects and show no outward signs of infection. HPAI is a notifiable disease meaning you are legally required to inform the authorities if you suspect your birds are infected.
What are the symptoms to look out for
Knowing the early signs of infection can give you a head start on the potential spread of the disease. Although the symptoms vary in different breeds of poultry the main ones to look out for are:
- A noticeable increase in birds found dead
- Birds affected in the same vicinity
- Birds gasping and coughing
- Fever and an increase in body temperature
- Gurgling, sneezing and rattling
- A lack of water consumption and appetite
- Diarrhoea with discoloured droppings
- Swelling of the comb and wattles with a blue discolouration
- Lethargy and unresponsiveness
- Drooping wings or dragging legs
- Loss of balance and uncoordinated movements
- Watery eyes
- Haemorrhaging on the legs and under the skin
- A reduction in egg production
If you see these signs in your birds you must call your vet immediately for medical confirmation. Reacting quickly can reduce the severity of the infection and reduce your operational downtime.
How can the Livetec team help protect your birds
Our team of biosecurity advisers have been advising poultry farmers, large and small for over a decade. We work closely with APHA, Defra, the NFU and educational institutes to lead the way in helping UK poultry farmers protect their animals, livelihoods and UK farming as a whole.
Our services include:
- Biosecurity advisory services
- Contingency plans
- Biosecurity plans
- Infected premises response plans
- National outbreak plans
- Cleansing and disinfection plans
To find out how Livetec’s biosecurity advisors can help you protect your farm from disease contact us here.