FAYETTEVILLE — Restricting visitor access, anti-viral hygiene and clean clothing and equipment are among the key steps to preventing the spread of avian influenza or other diseases, said Dustan Clark, extension veterinarian for the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture.
"With a case of avian influenza being investigated by the Arkansas Livestock and Poultry Commission at a Scott County poultry farm, now is a good time to remind flock owners of measures to take to prevent the spread of any disease," Clark said.
The UA Cooperative Extension Service is holding a meeting focusing on poultry bio-security. This meeting will be open to all involved with poultry of any type, including backyard or hobby birds. The meeting will be conducted by Clark, also from the University of Arkansas Center for Poultry Excellence. The meeting will be Monday, July 1 at 6 p.m. at the Jeral Hampton Meeting Place in Booneville.
The H7N7 type of flu is classified as "low pathogenic" meaning it causes mild illness in poultry, if any. The Scott County case was detected after management of the poultry operation noted a slight decrease in production. The operation has since been quarantined.
"The potential losses and costs associated with avian Influenza outbreaks make it extremely important for the poultry producer and small poultry flock owner to protect their flocks," he said.
Clark recommends these practices:
1. Keep "No Visitors" and/or "Restricted" signs posted at the road entrance of the farm.
2. Do not allow visitors on the farm or in the poultry houses.
3. All farm personnel should wear separate clothing (including shoes, boots, hats, gloves, etc.) on the farm. Clothes used on the farm should stay on the farm.
4. Completely change all clothing after caring for the flock, and wash hands and arms thoroughly before leaving the premises.
5. Do not visit other poultry farms or flocks or have contact with any other species of birds.
6. Keep all poultry houses securely locked. Lock all houses from the inside while working inside.
7. All equipment, crates, coops, etc. should be thoroughly cleaned and disinfected before and after use.
8. All essential visitors (owners, feed delivery personnel, poultry catchers and haulers, service men, etc.) are to wear protective outer clothing, such as coveralls, boots, and headgear prior to being allowed near the poultry flock or farm.
9. Monitor all vehicles (service, feed delivery, poultry delivery or removal, etc.) entering the premises to determine if they have been properly cleaned and disinfected. This includes disinfection of the tires and vehicle undercarriage.
10. Sick and dying birds should be submitted to a diagnostic laboratory for proper diagnosis of the problem. All commercial growers should contact their flock supervisor and follow their instructions.
11. Dead birds are to be properly disposed of by burial, incineration or other approved method.
12. Any person handling wild game (especially waterfowl) must completely change clothing and shower or bathe before entering the premises.
13. Do not borrow equipment, vehicles, etc. from another poultry farm.
14. Do not visit areas where avian influenza is a problem.
15. Remember to use basic hygiene to prevent contracting any influenza virus. This includes covering your mouth when you cough and/or sneeze and then washing your hands with soap and water afterwards.
16. Properly handle and cook all poultry for consumption to an internal temperature of at least 165 degrees Fahrenheit.
If you have poultry on your farm that are sick and/or dying, see any unusual signs in your poultry, or have questions concerning Avian Influenza contact your local county agent, veterinarian, or livestock inspector, the University of Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service poultry veterinarian (479-957-4245) or the Arkansas State Veterinarians office (501-907-2400).