· This is the first in a small series from Poultry Times regarding the importance of biosecurity.

GAINESVILLE, Ga. — According to USDA, biosecurity is what farmers, or any others do to keep microorganisms, bacteria, fungi, and parasites that cause disease away from their animals.

Structural biosecurity is the maintenance of coops, pens, poultry houses, family farms and commercial farms. Operational biosecurity are the practices people use to maintain biosecurity. The USDA names three illnesses that can be found on poultry farms.

Avian influenza or “bird flu” is a respiratory infection that infects birds. It is brought about by an influenza type A virus infects chickens, turkeys, pheasants, quail, domestic ducks, geese, guinea fowl, waterfowl and wild birds.

There are two types of avian influenza:

1. Extremely pathogenic avian flu cases are very infectious and can easily be spread from flock to flock. This type of strain is deadly to domestic poultry.

2. Low pathogenic avian flu cases are not as infectious and are seen in wild migratory waterfowl. Domestic poultry can still be infected with this strain but will show no signs of being infected.

Symptoms of avian influenza include:

· Sudden death without any indication of being ill.

· Loss of appetite

· No energy

· Decline in egg production, soft or warped eggs.

· Inflammation of head, comb, eyelids, wattles and hooks.

· Purple discoloration of comb, legs and wattles.

· Nasal discharge, coughing and sneezing.

· Incoordination or soft fecal matter

Other diseases that biosecurity steps can help against include virulent Newcastle disease which is a virus that harms the respiratory system, the nervous system, and the digestive system in birds. This type of virus is asymptomatic and is fatal. Salmonella is most commonly seen in humans who consume underdone poultry meat and eggs. However, it can be found on live poultry. Salmonella is a type of bacteria that can cause bowel discomfort, nausea and vomiting. Salmonella is not considered to be fatal, although it can be extremely harmful to someone who is under the age of five or over the age of 65. The USDA advises someone to wash their hands after dealing with live poultry and to cook poultry meat completely.

The USDA also offers many safety steps to follow regarding farms and how to maintain proper biosecurity.

Among them are:

· Keep visitors to a minimum: People who assist in taking care of poultry should be the only ones allowed near the poultry. If friends and family do not assist with the poultry, they should not be near the poultry. The USDA recommends that if people are to go near live poultry, they should adhere to biosecurity rules.

· Wash your hands before and after coming in contact with live poultry: Bacteria can be spread from birds to humans. To avoid contamination in humans it is important for a person to wash their hands thoroughly. If using hand sanitizer, a person must be sure to eliminate manure and feathers from their hands because hand sanitizer is not strong enough to remove those elements.

· Provide disposable boot covers and/or disinfectant footbaths for anyone having contact with your flock: It is important to eliminate any manure, mud or any other waste from a person’s footwear using a long-handled scrub brush before going into a disinfectant foot wash. Be sure that it is clean at all times.

· Change clothes before entering poultry areas and before exiting the property: People visiting farms or facilities should wear protective outer clothing or throwaway boots, coveralls and headgear. They should bathe or at least change their clothes before exiting the farm or facility.

· Clean and disinfect tools or equipment before moving them to a new poultry facility: Before allowing any type of vehicle to leave the farm or poultry facility, be sure that they have been cleaned and disinfected. This also comprises of egg flats that have been around birds and their fecal matter. This prevents any vehicle from transporting diseases. Do not reuse items or items that can’t be cleaned such as egg flats.

· Look for signs of illnesses.

· Report sick birds: The USDA recommends someone not wait if a bird is sick. If someone’s bird has become ill, call a veterinarian, a cooperative extensive service or state veterinarian. Someone can also call the USDA toll-free at 866-536-7593.

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