What is avian influenza (AI)?
Avian influenza, also known as bird flu or avian flu, is a term used to group many types of influenza viruses which infect birds together. It is common in wildfowl who are responsible for its spread each season and is relatively harmless to them, but can be lethal to domestic poultry. Avian flu affects the respiratory, gastro-intestinal, reproductive or nervous system in many types of poultry birds and this season has been the worst on record.
The viruses that do not show many signs of disease in poultry are called low pathogenic avian influenza viruses (LPAI) but if not kept in check a LPAI can mutate into a highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI). HPAIs can cause great loss to poultry farmers in bird deaths from the disease, or from the need to contain the infection through depopulation.
There is no single vaccine against AI as each vaccine would have to be tailored to the specific influenza strain, which is constantly adapting. Only a tiny dose of the virus is needed, and when these are amplified they can spread through entire flocks. The best line of defence against avian flu is prevention with a comprehensive biosecurity plan.
How is avian influenza transmitted?
Avian influenza can be spread from wild birds when they mix with domestic poultry, or it can be spread through contaminated materials where the biosecurity protocols are poor. It can also be contracted by airborne transmission from bird to bird through their breathing or coughing and also from excretions from their bodies such as saliva and their nasal and eye secretions.
Avian flu can also be spread by indirect means such as bird droppings, feed, cages, bedding and contaminated water and soil. Farm equipment, vehicles, clothes and, especially shoes or boots, can spread the disease from farm to farm. It is also thought that the virus can be transmitted from farms that are in close proximity to one another by airborne faeces in contaminated dust.
The virus can also be carried by other animals carrying the virus on their bodies such as rodents and buildings housing poultry should be protected against the entry of wild animals and rodents.
How can you reduce the risks to your flocks?
Over the last decade Livetec has attended nearly every notifiable disease outbreak in poultry in the UK, and in some circumstances there were no biosecurity measures in place.
Understanding the potential entry points and how disease can be spread from farm to farm is essential in reducing the risk of disease gaining access to your premises and infecting your animals.
Livetec have a range of biosecurity solutions
Biosecurity is essential to reducing the chance of avian influenza spreading from flock to flock and farm to farm.
Our extensive range of biosecurity services promote the highest standards and best practices expected by the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (Defra) and Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) and are recognised by key industry bodies.
Find out how you can protect your animals from disease and contact the Livetec team here.