4/27/2015 Colorado Bird Owners: Protect your Poultry

April 27, 2015
Christi Lightcap, CDA, (303) 869-9005, Christi.Lightcap@state.co.us
Jerry Wilkins, CEP, (303) 946-5106, info@coloradoeggproducers.com
Colorado Bird Owners: Protect your Poultry
BROOMFIELD, Colo. –The United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) has confirmed the presence of Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) H5N2 & H5N8 in wild birds, as well as in backyard and commercial poultry flocks. The states with confirmed cases of HPAI in domestic poultry are: Arkansas, California, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, North Dakota, Oregon, South Dakota, Washington, and Wisconsin. The Colorado Department of Agriculture and the Colorado Egg Producers Association urge Colorado’s bird owners to take steps to protect their poultry from avian influenza.
“While there are currently no cases of HPAI in Colorado, the number of states with confirmed cases continue to increase. The best measure bird owners can take to protect their flocks is to increase their disease prevention practices,” said CDA’s State Veterinarian, Dr. Keith Roehr. “Whether you’re a commercial poultry operation or a backyard bird owner, a few simple steps can make a big difference in the health of your birds.”
“We are very concerned about the potential threat of the High Pathogenic Avian Influenza outbreak affecting poultry and egg laying farms in the Midwest region of the country,” said Jerry Wilkins, president of the Colorado Egg Producers Association. “Understanding that the source of the outbreak in the Midwest may have come from migrating birds through a regional flyway, the Colorado Egg Producers Association knows that a robust biosecurity plan is integral to protecting the health and welfare of our egg laying flocks.”
Vaccines are not commonly used to control avian influenza virus outbreaks due to trade implications and because no vaccine covers all strains of the virus; disease prevention is the best way to prevent HPAI.
  • Restrict on-farm access to essential employees only.
  • Follow on-farm disinfecting procedures, such as the use of foot baths and keeping tools and equipment clean.
  • House domestic poultry indoors to prevent access to wild birds and waterfowl.
  • If you own poultry, do not have contact with other flocks or flock premises and limit movement of birds, poultry workers, equipment, and transport vehicles between farm operations.
  • Require protective gear to be used at all times for anyone who enters an egg farm.
  • People should avoid contact with sick or dead poultry or wildlife.
  • If contact occurs, wash your hands with soap and water and change clothing before having any contact with healthy domestic poultry and birds.
Additional information on biosecurity for backyard flocks can be found at http://healthybirds.aphis.usda.gov.
As part of existing avian health programs and avian influenza response plans, federal and state partners are working jointly on disease surveillance and monitoring in Colorado including the Colorado State University (CSU) Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratories. The United States has the strongest avian influenza surveillance program in the world to actively look for the disease in commercial poultry operations, live bird markets, backyard flocks, and in migratory wild bird populations. HPAI virus strains can travel in wild birds without them appearing sick.
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) considers the risk to people and our food supply from the HPAI H5 infections in wild birds, backyard flocks and commercial poultry, to be low. Furthermore, avian influenza cannot be transmitted through safely handled and properly cooked eggs and poultry. 
The Colorado Egg Producers Association (CEP) is committed to proper stewardship toward our communities, environment and hens while providing safe, nutritious and affordable fresh eggs to Colorado consumers. Its member farmers care for more than four million egg laying hens in various forms of housing systems and produce more than a billion eggs annually. For more information on CEP, visit www.coloradoeggproducers.com.   
All bird owners, whether commercial producers or backyard enthusiasts, should report sick birds or unusual bird deaths:
  • If you have sick birds or birds that have died from unknown causes, help is available at the Colorado Avian Health Call Line at CSU at 970-297-4008. Dead birds may be submitted to the CSU Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratories in Fort Collins for free HPAI testing at (970) 297-4008 or (970) 297-1281; http://dlab.colostate.edu.
  • To report multiple sick birds or unusual bird deaths to state or federal officials, contact either the Colorado State Veterinarian’s Office at (303) 869-9130 or USDA at (303) 231-5385.