Avian Influenza or “Bird Flu” is highly and rapidly transmissible to chickens from infected waterfowl, especially wild ducks and geese, through bird droppings, secretions and contaminated surfaces. If your chickens come into contact with infected birds, it is highly likely they will develop the bird flu.
Symptoms of Bird Flu in Chickens
Depending upon the strain of avian flu virus, it can cause a variety of symptoms in chickens as well as humans. There are two main strains of avian bird flu, H5N1 and H7N9. Its symptoms look different in chickens vs. humans.
What Does Bird Flu Look Like in Chickens?
How do I know if my chickens have the bird flu? Chickens infected with bird flu often have cyanosis and swelling around the head, eyes, comb, wattles, legs and feet. They may also have respiratory issues including nasal discharge and gasping for air. Other common signs are diarrhea, a decreased appetite and decreased egg production.
Most chickens infected with bird flu die.
|CYANOSIS AND SWELLING:|
HEAD, EYES, COMB,
WATTLE, LEGS, FEET
GASPING FOR AIR,
|SOFT SHELL OR|
What Does Bird Flu Look Like in Humans?
Humans infected with the bird flu often have flu-like symptoms including fever, aching in their muscles and joints, coughing and a sore throat. Symptoms of bird flu in humans can also lead to shortness of breath, pneumonia, eventually leading to respiratory failure and death. From the initial symptoms to death it is quick, only taking 10 days.
Half of all humans that have contracted bird flu have died.
|ACHY MUSCLES AND|
|SHORTNESS OF BREATH|
Transmission of Chicken Bird Flu to Humans
Is Bird Flu Contagious to Humans?
Bird flu is not easily transmitted from birds to humans and even more rare to transmit from human to human. But it is possible for humans to contract the bird flu if they come into contact with enough infected chicken droppings or secretions.
Humans can also contract this virus from dust or manure particles if cleaning an infected chicken coop without wearing protective gear.
Direct contact exposure: If a person touches secretions or manure by handling an infected chicken and then touches their eyes, nose or mouth they can become infected with the virus.
Indirect exposure: If a person touches a surface that had secretions or feces from an infected chicken on it and then touches their eyes, nose or mouth they can become infected with the virus.
Indirect exposure: Walking through a chicken coop or chicken run and inhaling infected chicken coop dust particles.
“These viruses occur naturally among wild aquatic birds worldwide and can infect domestic poultry and other bird and animal species. Avian flu viruses do not normally infect humans. However, sporadic human infections with avian flu viruses have occurred. “CDC–Information on Avian Influenza
Can Bird Flu Spread Through Cooked Chicken?
Heat will destroy the avian flu virus, so as long as you thoroughly cook the meat, there isn’t a problem transmitting the virus from a known infected chicken. Make sure that the juices run clear and the internal meat temperature reaches a minimum of 165℉, 73°C.
Can You Catch Bird Flu from Eggs?
According to the WHO, World Health Organization, it is safe to eat eggs from chickens that were infected with the bird flu as long as they are fully cooked.
Don’t eat raw or undercooked eggs.
“There is no evidence to suggest that the A(H5), A(H7N9) or other avian influenza viruses can be transmitted to humans through properly prepared poultry or eggs.“WHO–Influenza and other Zoonotic
Prevention of Bird Flu in Chickens
How Do I Protect My Chickens from Bird Flu?
Prevention of the bird flu in chickens involves improving your biosecurity. In order to keep your flock safe from disease and pathogens it is necessary to have a specific hygiene plan in place. To ensure your chickens are protected, this plan should be followed at all times.
- Quarantine New Flock Members
- If you are planning on introducing new chickens into your already existing flock it is very important to quarantine the new members for a minimum of 30 days away from your already existing flock.
- This is long enough to determine if they are carrying any diseases. The last thing you want is to pass a disease to your whole flock!
- When quarantining, make sure that they are at least 3 feet from your existing flock. Many diseases, such as bird flu, can be transmitted through dust and poop particles in the air.
- Don’t Attract Ducks and Geese
- Put away uneaten chicken feed daily.
- Don’t leave standing water out where your flock free ranges.
- Keep composting bin away from your chicken coop.
- Keep garbage cans or dumpsters away from chicken coop.
- Dispose of any garbage and carcasses appropriately.
- Cover Your Chicken Run
- Protect your flock from above with bird netting or chicken wire. This not only will protect them from ducks and geese that carry the bird flu, but it will also protect them from aerial predators such as hawks and owls.
- Regularly Clean Your Chicken Coop
- Sanitize the chicken coop, nesting boxes, perches on a regular basis. This will help to stop the spread of many diseases and viruses, including the bird flu.
- Always Wash Your Hands Before and After Handling Chickens or Equipment
- Washing your hands will help to avoid transferring any diseases, such as the bird flu, both to your chickens and also to yourself.
- Use Fake Decoys to Deter Wildlife Such as Ducks and Geese
- Use fake decoys such as owls, flags, alligator heads, mylar tape and scarecrows.
- Move the decoys every few days to keep ducks and geese at bay.
Should I Keep My Chickens In Because of Bird Flu?
If you live in an area where bird flu is prevalent, it is best not to let your flock free range. Instead, keep your chickens confined to an area where they can not come into contact with any wild ducks or geese.
Because bird flu can be transmitted through duck and geese feces, it is important to protect your flock from above by providing a roof over the chicken run.
Can a Chicken Live Inside?
It is not recommended to allow a chicken to live inside a home for three essential reasons:
- Chickens innate behavior is to peck and scratch the ground to forage for food, take dust baths and perch with others in their flock at night. Bringing them indoors to live, will be depriving them of being able to carry out their natural behavior.
- A chicken that is provided with fresh air, sunshine and allowed access to bugs, seeds and greens is a healthier chicken and will provide nutritionally healthier eggs.
- Chickens can carry many diseases that can be transmitted to humans:
- Salmonella (Bacterial)
- Avian Influenza-Bird Flu (Viral)
- Campylobacter (Bacterial)
- Exotic New Castle Disease (Viral)
- E. Coli (Bacterial)
- Histoplasmosis (Bacterial)
How do You Treat Bird Flu in Chickens?
There is no treatment for chickens that contract the bird flu. The following steps must be taken if you suspect the bird flu:
How to Treat Bird Flu in Chickens
- All chickens that contract the bird flu must be destroyed.
- Chickens that have come into contact with another chicken or wild bird that has the bird flu must be destroyed.
- All carcasses need to be properly disposed of.
- Contact USDA so proper tracing can be done to stop the spread of the virus.
- Thorough cleaning of your chicken coop, tools and property is essential in order to stop further spread of the virus.
USDA began an emergency stockpile of human vaccines for bird flu in 2015. Unfortunately, it is not something that is available to the public, but it is there in case these viruses mutate and become more easily transmissible from chicken to human and from human to human.
How Long Can Bird Flu Survive on Surfaces?
During cold weather, the bird flu can survive on hard surfaces, such as steel chicken coop door handles, rakes, shovels and chicken coop walls for up to 2 weeks. Avian influenza lasts up to a day at room temperature, 68-72℉.
This is why it is so important to wear protective gear when cleaning out your chicken coop, not to touch your eyes, nose or mouth and to thoroughly wash your hands after interacting with your chickens.
CONCLUSION: Can My Chickens Get the Bird Flu?
Many people that own chickens often ask,
- “What is the bird flu?“
- “Can my chickens get the bird flu?”
- “What are the symptoms of bird flu in chickens?“
- “Can you get bird flu from chickens?“
- “How do you treat bird flu in chickens?“
Bird flu, otherwise known as avian influenza, is a highly contagious and deadly virus among chickens. Chickens contract this deadly virus by coming into contact with the feces or mucosal secretions of ducks and geese.
There is no known treatment for avian influenza. All chickens that contract this virus must be destroyed and properly disposed of.
It’s important to know the signs of bird flu so you can stop the spread.
Always wear protective gear when cleaning your chicken coop. This will minimize the likelihood of you contracting any chicken to human diseases, including the bird flu.